St Gabriel’s School and Centre
October 23, 2018
Voting at work? IP/network restrictions may prevent you from doing so. If so, you can still use your phone to vote for all your favourite entries now.
Outline the vision and mission of the Social Enterprise
“Hydrotherapy for Everyone”
“to provide an accessible community based hydrotherapy pool which will be available to everyone and provide fun, social and integrated interventions”.
Why was it set-up?
Based on international research, Hydrotherapy is recognised as being an essential part of rehabilitation and extremely beneficial intervention for people with disabilities.
There is no other facility comparable to St. Gabriel’s Hydrotherapy Pool in the Mid-West Region. The initial concept was to have the pool specifically for children with disabilities but as we developed our plans we saw the potential to make the Hydrotherapy Pool part of the local community, bringing in users to our campus and setting up the whole project as a Social Enterprise.
Having such an excellent facility in the region we saw an opportunity to engage with the wider community and are now running programmes from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
These include programmes such as aqua babies, parent and toddler group, swimming classes which generate income.
The aim being to cover the costs of running the Hydrotherapy pool allowing us to subsidise the cost for groups/individuals with disabilities and provide it free of charge to children with disabilities attending our service.
One of our main aims is to have Hydrotherapy available for everyone who would benefit from it. This means it must be:
• community based
How has the Social Enterprise developed and tackled issues?
St. Gabriel’s is a not-for-profit organisation established to meet the needs of children with disabilities in the mid-west region. In 2002 a review of services, needs of clients and best practice guidelines demonstrated a gap in services in particular hydrotherapy.
We initially looked at pools available in the community and began a service using resources in the region. The need for a purpose built Hydrotherapy Pool became apparent very quickly.
In 2004 The Board of St Gabriel’s made the decision to provide a purpose built hydrotherapy pool on their site in Dooradoyle, adjacent to their special school and therapy centre. The main issues that presented were:
1. Finding the best design
2. Funding the Project
1. St. Gabriel’s had the vision that this would not be only used for their own service users but would become an integral part of the community. Extensive research was undertaken around Ireland and the UK, and while no pool met the exact requirements we were looking for, by incorporating elements from several pools we designed the pool we have today. The pool design has proved ideal in meeting the needs of users.
2. Our initial concept was submitted for funding to the JP Mc Manus Golf Pro Am Committee in 2005 and we delighted to be awarded €1.6 million towards the capital cost. The entire build cost €2.2 million and we fundraised extensively and took out a €300.000 bank loan which we have almost repaid.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
Our increasing numbers and income demonstrate the widening impact the service has had:
2014: 20,053 hydrotherapy visits
2015: 27,593 hydrotherapy visits
2016: 34,512 hydrotherapy visits
2017: 18,590 hydrotherapy visits – pool closed for 18 weeks for essential repairs
2018: 28,592 to 21st October, (42 weeks), estimate hydrotherapy visits for full year is 35,399
2017: €107,422 – pool closed for 18 weeks for essential repairs
2018: €182,169 – based on 10 months income and estimated for 12 months
Our expenditure in 2018 is forecasted to be €159,169, giving us a profit of €23,000 which will be re-invested back into the service.
St. Gabriel’s Hydrotherapy Pool is open from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week.
We have constantly expanded the services available to meet the needs of people in the community. An example of this is when people asked could they come and use the pool for their own rehabilitation needs, e.g. post hip and knee replacement. We then organised ‘Open Sessions’ for people to pay as they attended. Some people then asked about physiotherapy and we employed a sessional physiotherapist to address this gap.
A testimonial from the mother of a child with complex disabilities stated “My child loves the pool. It helps him to relax better and improves his sleep on the day he uses the pool. We love using the pool as a family activity as there are so few things we can enjoy together as a family”
What makes this Social Enterprise unique?
St. Gabriel’s pool is the only Hydrotherapy pool in the mid-west region that is accessible to both children and adults with disabilities and it is used by many individuals, voluntary, disability groups for therapy and rehabilitation purposes.
The Hydrotherapy pool is an essential resource that serves the social good of the wider community many with disabilities. Individuals and groups which use the pool include; Arthritis Association, Parkinson’s Association, Multiple Sclerosis Ireland, Enable Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland, Stroke Support, Pain Management groups and patients following orthopaedic surgery including hip and knee replacements.
The pool is also used by baby groups and for swimming classes.
Regular pools are usually heated to 26 degrees Celsius, The hydrotherapy pool is heated to 33 degrees. It is this unique feature which ensures there is no harsh change of temperature to the body or muscles which facilitates optimum relaxation and recovery. This purpose built pool provides the ideal environment where children with disabilities and other service users carry out their exercise and physiotherapy programmes.
In addition to the high water temperature the pool also has a host of other specially adapted features:
• Warm water heated to 33 degrees Celsius and correspondingly warm poolside air temperature
• Water sanitisation is controlled by UV light ,this minimises the need for chlorine which can be harsh on sensitive skin and lungs
• Stepped and poolside hoist access
• Therapeutic jets and hand rails
• Spacious wheelchair accessible changing rooms with overhead hoists
• Shower chairs, shower beds and plinths
• A bright and friendly environment with accessible free parking
The individuals and groups who use the pool pay for their sessions, this creates an income which in turn pays for the running costs of the pool and allows us to offer hydrotherapy at no cost to children attending
Please describe how your Social Enterprise engages in trading activity in a way to achieve your social mission
We generate income by charging individuals and groups to use the Hydrotherapy Pool.
Groups can book blocks of sessions, e.g. every Wednesday 10 – 11 am for 10 weeks.
Individuals can attend open sessions which they pay for as they come or they can purchase a pre-paid card. We advertise these as excellent gifts for people and they are extremely popular.
If a person wants to use the pool during open sessions for individual rehabilitation programmes, they can bring their own Physiotherapist or can make an appointment with a St. Gabriel’s therapist at an additional cost.
For children attending St. Gabriel’s they attend with their parent and therapist in the pool as part of their intervention either individually (perhaps post-surgery) or in groups. There is no cost to families for these sessions as they are part of the child’s therapy. Once a parent has had some sessions with a therapist they can bring their child to specified weekly sessions with their siblings and carry out their programmes and there is a minimum subsidised cost for these.
We have set up Pool Vouchers which people can purchase as a gift or which we use to promote the pool or say thank you to our funders and supporters.
100% of our Hydrotherapy Pool Social Enterprise income is traded income. The income generated allows us to open our pool at affordable rates to people in our community and at no charge to children attending our service and their families.
How can the public support the Social Enterprise?
There are many different ways the public can offer valuable support to the hydrotherapy pool.
Civic minded individuals and companies engage with us on volunteer projects during the year to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the hydrotherapy pool. This can include painting and decorating, cleaning of the areas around the pool side, floors, walls, equipment and changing rooms.
Volunteers also carry out wonderful landscaping and outdoor planting which helps to make the outside of the building more attractive for the public who use the hydrotherapy pool facility.
In keeping with their CSR ethos several companies have provided corporate sponsorship towards the purchase of expensive specialist pool equipment, such as plinths and hoists as well as funding towards the cost of maintenance work and replacing essential items in and around the pool.
Fundraising has always been a core activity in helping to support the hydrotherapy pool activity especially in the early years when the pool was becoming recognised and building its client base. In those early years it was very dependent on fundraising activity to generate income towards the various costs.
How is the Social Enterprise transparent and accountable?
St. Gabriel’s School and Centre is a company limited by guarantee and does not have a share capital. It is governed by a memorandum and articles of association.
We are registered with the Charities Regulator and nearing full compliance with standards.
We have a voluntary Board of Directors, none of whom receive remuneration.
The Board meet approximately 10 times a year.
Every year we carry out an independent financial audit and finance details are posted on our website and published in the CRO. We have moved towards SORP accounting practise and our 2018 accounts will be completely audited in this format.
We give a summary of our finance and activities in our published Annual Report.
We have just completed our Strategic plan for 2018-2023, which will be published in mid-November 2018.
Information regarding St. Gabriel’s School and Centre and our activities can be found on our website www.stgabriels.ie