CARL Research Reports 2020

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    The vocational and educational needs of adults recovering from mental health problems in a community setting, and the strategies, resources, initiatives available to meet them, as far as international literature is concerned: a comprehensive literature review
    (Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork, 2020-09) O'Brien, Michael; O'hAdhmaill, Feilim; City Links Cork; Civil Society Organization
    Background: Generally, individuals affected by mental illness experience its onset during their latent adolescent years which creates a disruption of their formal education and pathways toward employment. It is hoped that the findings within the research will enable community organisations supporting these individuals, to grow and develop their programmes in a fashion that will meet the needs of its service users from a person centred perspective based upon international best practice. This study explored the international literature regarding the best approaches available to support individuals affected with mental illness while living in the community. The research was focused in the areas of education, vocational training and pathways toward employment. It explored how various approaches function, and which were effective in supporting this group of individuals. Objectives: To explore, how best to meet these needs of mental health service users, from an educational, vocational training and employment perspective. To explore the formal and informal benefits of education and vocational training services. Methods: A Comprehensive Literature Review (CLR) was chosen as the method to apply to the study, in order to answer the research question in the correct context allowing for a broad scope. The CLR was used in a comprehensive format, in that it was an amalgamation of both qualitative and quantitative findings from both types of research applications. Results: Individuals living with mental illness within the community place employment at the top of their priorities for themselves. Yet their rates of employment and rates of pay are extremely low compared with the general population. Their capacity to function and perform within the workplace is underestimated due to stereotyping and stigma which exists throughout wider 14 community contexts. Such stigma is also held by medical services as well as community support organisations, who place the focus of their support around training, upholding the historic position of ‘train then place’ which has been shown to be out dated and ineffective. In a comparison of the types of approaches supporting these individuals supplied by community organisations, Supported Employment (SE) was seen to be most effective. The Individual Placement Support (IPS) model of supported employment was cited as being the most studied and most utilised approach internationally, based upon best practice. Methods of improvement around education and pathways to employment were discussed as well as solutions towards addressing the stigmatisation of these individuals within the workplace and the wider community. Conclusion: There are opportunities for vocational education and employment organisations, to develop supported employment programs in Ireland, based upon the IPS model, through a partnership with the mental health services. Such development would require a paradigm shift to the manner by which help is given to individuals living with mental illness in the community currently. However, it would maximise the potentials for such organisations in achieving the goals as prioritised by the service users, reflecting a truly person-centred practice. Considering the testimony of association between unemployment and mental health, action should be undertaken to increase the probability of employment for people who wish to work. The IPS approach has the capacity to accomplish the objectives set out by the State as defined within the Government’s Comprehensive Employment Strategy which defines their plan to achieve their objectives for the next decade. It guarantees that individuals who have disabilities, and wish to gain employment in the open market will be supported in doing so. At the same time, the IPS approach holds the prospect for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, in decreasing the numbers of people with mental health challenges, who are currently reliant upon social welfare payments for all of their income There is a need to have stigma interventions introduced into the structures of society particularly in the workforce so that individuals living with mental illness can attain employment, improve their incomes and the quality of their lives and also the quality of their health. There is a need for employers, co-workers and the extended community to be educated towards the responsibility of society to treat people living with mental illness with respect, preserving their dignity and relating to them as equal citizens. The development of workplace mental health policies presented with precise operating procedures, supported by the values of the relevant companies or organisations could provide a framework that would place mental health comfortably within the workplace. There are opportunities also for community organizations to facilitate vocational coaches to develop what has come to be known as ‘Transition Plans’ with students living with mental health challenges while they are still attending secondary education schools. These plans are then supported and actualized while the students transition from secondary education into their desired career pathway. The development of such connections in Ireland while they are preparing to transition from secondary education into vocational education would go a long way towards stabilizing these individuals during this challenging time in their lives.
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    An exploration of the value youth mentors attach to their role in Gaisce – The President’s Award Irish national self-development programme
    (Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork, 2020-09) Mangan, Philip J.; Leane, Máire; Gaisce – The President’s Award; Civil Society Organization
    Using Gaisce, The President’s Award, Ireland’s national youth achievement award programme, this study explores the role of the youth mentor within a non-formal learning environment. Drawing on quantitative survey data and semi-structured qualitative interviews, the study examined the value which school-based President’s Award Leaders (PALs) perceive is attached to the role they play in mentoring young people through the Gaisce programme. In relation to their perceived value, 90% of the teacher PALs surveyed reported that they believed that they ‘made a difference’ to the lives of their Award students. It also emerged that a core source of affirmation for PALs is the response of students who complete the programme and that of their parents. Secondary value or affirmation comes from school management and, to a lesser extent, from Gaisce. The high attrition rate in the programme was identified as a significant theme - with 40% of participants failing to attain the Award. It was apparent that such a high drop-out rate impacted significantly on the morale of PALs. Although there was unanimous agreement amongst participants that they have no desire to receive monetary or other rewards for the work they do for Gaisce, the importance they place on feeling valued was highlighted by the general consensus that they appreciate receiving recognition for the work they do. Gaisce PALs reported that they spent less than 180 minutes per week engaging in mentor/mentee relationships and had an average of 33 mentees each. Subsequently, many participants reported that delivering on their role as a Gaisce PAL, in tandem with their duties as a teacher, proved challenging in the context of time poverty. It was notable that PALs working in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools believed that students and the parents of students in their schools, who achieved the Award, place a high value on the work they do and on the Gaisce programme - since they are less likely to have had the opportunity to attain as many awards as students in more advantaged schools.
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    Cork Learning Neighbourhoods: documenting the impact on communities and organisations in Cork city and exploring current and sustainable models of practice
    (Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork, 2020-09) Nash, Eamon; O’Sullivan, Siobhan; Mayfield Integrative Community Development Project (Mayfield CDP); The Cork Learning Neighbourhoods (CLN); Civil Society Organization
    Cork City, Ireland was awarded a learning city award from UNESCO’s, Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) in 2015. The Cork Learning Neighbourhoods, which is one strand of the Cork Learning City, was first piloted in 2015 and now (in 2020) consists of six different learning neighbourhoods in Cork City. The Cork Learning Neighbourhoods aims to facilitate partnership and collaboration to strengthen leaning for all and lifelong learning opportunities in each neighbourhood. This research aims to document the impact of the Cork Learning Neighbourhoods as well as identify current and sustainable models of practice. A participatory research approach using a sequential transformative strategy to mixed methods was employed in this research. This allowed the research to collect data in a phase-by-phase manner. The findings show that the Cork Learning Neighbourhoods is positively impacting individuals and neighbourhoods social, identify, cultural and human capital and enhancing mental health. The research also shows that a neighbourhood centred integrative and participatory approach to a hybrid and evolving model of practice has been adopted across all Cork Learning Neighbourhoods. Financial and non-financial resources and supports from Cork Learning Cities partnering organisations and local organisations are key to the sustainability of the Cork Learning Neighbourhoods. The research concludes by stating that the UIL Learning Cities is setting the Global framework, Cork Learning City is adopting and leading this in Cork City and the Cork Learning Neighbourhoods, comprising of all of the local and city partnering organisations and individual learners, are realizing and putting this into action in their local learning neighbourhood.
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    An analysis of Youth Work Ireland, Cork’s ‘Mind Your Head’ programme
    (Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork, 2020-10-02) Koyce, Colin; Leahy, Patrick; Youth Work Ireland, Cork; Civil Society Organization
    This is a thesis surrounding Youth Work Ireland, Cork and the HSE Health Action Zone’s young people’s mental health programme ‘Mind Your Head’. The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the effectiveness of the programme in its intention to educate young people around mental health and highlight ways to develop positive mental health skills and coping mechanisms. The researcher chose to do this research project as they believe young people’s mental health to be of the utmost importance in the ever-evolving society in which we find ourselves in. The development of worthwhile mental health programmes are key in creating a future society where in which there is a lack of stigmatisation around those who suffer from mental health issues and a more open minded and understanding environment for young people to grow up. There is no shame in mental ill-health. Mental health issues do not discriminate.
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    The experiences of elderly service users with regard to public audiology services in Ireland
    (Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork, 2020-05-29) O'Hehir, Caitlin Orna; Laoide-Kemp, Siobhán; Friendly Call Cork; Civil Society Organization
    Background: As life expectancy increases, there is a corresponding increase in age-related conditions including deterioration of hearing acuity due to ageing (presbyacusis). Individuals with presbyacusis have been reported to exhibit depression, suffer social isolation and a decline in cognitive function. Recent research has identified multiple barriers, which influence hearing aid uptake, including inadequate audiological rehabilitation. What are the experiences of older service users with regard to public Audiology Services? There is no research currently available analysing the public Audiology care pathway for the older population in Ireland. Aim: This study aims to explore the experiences and views of older adults with hearing loss, who live alone, during their journey through the public Audiology Services i.e. from their direct referral to the follow-up appointment post hearing aid fitting. The research project was conducted in collaboration with a community partner Friendly Call Cork under the Community-based Academic Research Link (CARL) in University College Cork (UCC). Method: This study was a pilot study. In order to collect data, a mixed method research design was adopted. A latent thematic approach was used to analyse the qualitative data. The quantitative data was presented using tables. Results: The student researcher visited 5 members of Friendly Call Cork accompanied by a Volunteer who was already familiar to them. The members responded to the questions in the questionnaire during these home visits. The results revealed defined areas along the public Audiology care pathway which would support this vulnerable population: accessibility of services, advocacy, monitoring of onward referrals and patient progress. Conclusion: The findings highlight that older adults who live alone require specific and targeted supports including advocates, additional follow up appointments and counselling sessions.