Sporting Inclusion – A New Initiative by Bluebird Care in Limerick

Bluebird Care in Limerick has launched a new initiative to get more sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. General Manager Daragh McGlynn revealed our plans on Limerick’s Live 95FM this week and put a call out to individuals, groups, organisations, hobbyists, social clubs and societies to tell us what kind of new experience, sport or hobby that you could help introduce a person with a disability to.

Social inclusion and community integration for people with a disability, in particular around leisure social and sports activities is everyone’s responsibility.

Get Involved!

Contact Daragh McGlynn now on 061 480 208 or email

Daragh says, “We also want to remind people that community-based activities are of central importance to daily living and one of the ways we are looking to support people with disabilities in the community is through facilitating this with Supported Self-Directed Living.

What is Supported Self-Directed Living?

Supported Self-Directed living occurs when individuals, with appropriate supports, are able to choose, pursue and achieve their aspirations for a good life to a similar extent to other people in their society this is achieved through a frame work and not a model, you learn how to use the framework but the strategies are unique or person-centred.

At Bluebird Care we are currently working with people who have support or respite hours available to use in a community setting, and what we are finding is that our Personal Assistants, supervisors and families can sometimes struggle to find peer activities for young adults aged 16 or over to engage in.

We would like to see a future where community-based disability care would involve traditional respite services in congregated settings stepping aside over time and allowing community and home respite services to support individuals one to one with Personal Assistants.

Why is this better?

All individuals with a disability albeit physical, sensory, intellectual or mental health have very unique needs by adapting a person-centred approach we can best meet these needs. As a society we need to recognise the need to look at individuals and their needs and be able to provide tailored individual solutions.

“If Ireland is to evolve we must follow other countries where the budget follows the individuals and people with a disability and their families can therefore choose the type and level of support that suits them,” says Daragh.

When I say people with disabilities what do I mean?

Disability comes in many forms be it physical, visual or hearing impairment, intellectual or mental health impairment.

It also comes at many stages in people’s lives including through accident, illness and as we age.

People with disabilities can face particular challenges when it comes to participating in everyday life activities.

Why are the models of care for Disabilities Changing?

The background to this conversation government policy on the care for people with a disability has been evolving for ten years, while we do have a long way to go to facilitate de-congregation; we still have come a long way in just over 10 years

September 2004 the then government launched the National Disability Strategy to underpin the participation of people with disabilities in Irish society. It was endorsed in the social partnership agreement titled Towards 2016.

The Implementation Plan 2013- 2015 sets out practical measures that will be taken to advance the National Disability Strategy over the period 2013-2015.

Another document that feeds into the direction that care for people with disabilities is taking is the

UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in particular Article 19

This states that we should “recognise the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others,” …. and that we should:

“take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community.”

It is important to consider to what extent our society supports or restricts individual independence, choice and control as well as access to income, social life, community living, mobility and much more.

Many of the difficulties stem from the way society is organised.

What are we looking for from the people of Limerick?

“We would like to raise awareness in the community around the social inclusion of people with a disability. As an organisation all our staff in the next six months will be undertaking disability awareness training whether they work with a customer with a disability or not. Hopefully their training will filter into their own communities. I would urge all service business’s such as restaurants hotels, gyms, cinema’s etc basically anyone selling to the general public to send their staff on disability awareness training,” says Daragh.

In the Your Voice Your Choice 2013 report commissioned by Nat. Dis. Auth. one of the a very important discoveries highlighted is that:

Participants felt that negative attitudes and lack of understanding result not only in the ill-treatment of people with disabilities. They also contribute to the maintenance of physical and financial barriers to participation……. In society.

I would like to put an open call out to all business’s, sports clubs, hobbyists, social clubs, individuals and societies in Limerick City and County to contact me and tell me what kind of new experience , sport or hobby etc that you could help introduce a person with a disability to.

These need to be mainstream peer led services.

I have industry contacts in a variety of organisations throughout limerick that these can be passed onto and or we can put them up on our website for all to access.


As a society we must adapt, from the national to the individual level, in our thinking, we must embrace a willingness to remain open minded in our approaches, to ensure people with disabilities are valued members of the community.

We should call to action all individuals, organisations, local and national Government to think positively about disability. It is a collaborative effort and an open invitation to the community and voluntary sectors to work creatively together with statutory agencies and government departments to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the coming years.