14.12.2020 The Year in Review

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 It has been an unprecedented year when all of us addressed challenges we never thought we would face. Here in the Neurological Alliance we were concerned to mobilise all our efforts to respond to COVID19 and the impact on our member organisations and on the people with neurological conditions and their families: many of whom had their everyday lives transformed in a matter of weeks.

Our advocacy work from March onwards focused on understanding and responding to the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID19 on neurological care services: the pent-up demand due to lockdown and restrictions, neurological consequences of long COVID and the unprecedented challenges facing community based neurological care due to the devastating impact of COVID19 on not for profit providers of these services.

Our COVID19 response included a nationwide survey of people with neurological conditions and family carers, submissions to a number of Oireachtas Committees, individual briefings with elected representatives and a joint call with other patient organisations to prioritise neurological and other chronic conditions in the rollout of vaccines. Check out our list of publications and submissions on COVID19 and other topics here

Provision of neurological care in Ireland is critically dependent on the not for profit sector. Our response included a dedicated #savemycharity campaign to raise awareness of the impact of COVID19 on neurological charities and we will continue this work into 2021, including through engagement with other umbrella groups, as the financial challenges become even more evident.

COVID19 has changed the way we work and introduced important opportunities to introduce changes in service provision into the future. NAI developed a project in 2020 to understand online services from the perspectives of people with neurological conditions and service providers: both statutory and voluntary. The findings from surveys and structured interviews will be presented in a webinar coming up during Brain Awareness Week March 2021. In addition, NAI will be rolling out a training programme to our member organisations during 2021 to address the challenges of digital transformation within their organisations. We also initiated a programme of one to one engagement with member organisations in 2020 in response to the COVID19 crisis and this has been an important learning experience for NAI in listening to and responding to the needs of our members. This engagement was vital in informing the development of Advocacy and Communications Strategies for the umbrella which will be finalised early in the New Year. Together with the three-year Strategic Plan launched earlier this year: these initiatives developed in conjunction with the Board and membership of NAI will play an important role in strengthening and supporting the umbrella in the years ahead.

Every aspect of neurological care in Ireland continues to be underdeveloped and underresourced. This situation has been exacerbated by COVID19 and all services are likely to come under increasing pressure in the year ahead. NAI will have an important evidence base to support its campaigns in 2021 with the publication of its 2020 survey of neurology services. In addition, NAI and DFI have applied for funding to carry out a detailed mapping of community neurorehabilitation supports by the voluntary sector which will capture the depth and range of specialist services provided by our members. NAI have also commenced an exercise to identify gaps and inform advocacy in relation to neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry services. NAI has agreed to engage with the Decision Support Service around forecasting service need ahead of the rollout of this service. Our engagement with Slaintecare will continue, following on from our Jan 2020 seminar and report. We will also continue to engage with the clinical programmes and with other stakeholders within the health sector: both directly in relation to neurological care and on other areas of health and disability service provision which have a significant impact on people with neurological conditions and their families.

We hope that we can continue to rely on your support and we look forward to working with you in the New Year. In the meantime, we wish everyone a safe and peaceful Christmas.

From the Team at NAI



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