FOR Listowel man Pat Griffin and many of his generation it has been a lifesaver and now, with the aid of €75,000 towards a brand new building it's on course to reach many more.
The North Kerry Day Care Centre - in a bright and lovely buiding in the Baile O Dubhda estate - buses elderly members in for two days each week from all over north Kerry. With a resident nurse, it provides people with an impressive array of different activities and services, from painting and three-course meals to chiropody and physiotherapy.
Spirits were particularly high in the centre on Friday, however, with the arrival of Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan bringing Department of Health National Lottery grant aid of €75,000. The money goes into a capital fund that will provide for the building of a brand new centre in the grounds of Listowel Hospital in the near future, it is hoped.
The current building, which is leased by the North Kerry Day Care Centre for the Elderly Ltd, is used only twice a week and can cater for 15 at a time. The new purpose-built centre - which is estimated will cost €450,000 - will open all week long and cater for up to 30 at a time.
Which is not to say that Baile O Dubhda has not provided its members with a fantastic service since it opened in 2009.
"It's been an absolute lifesaver," Listowel man Pat Griffin told The Kerryman. "I can't sing the praises of this place high enough and the staff are just wonderful. I don't know myself since I started coming here many years ago, it has really been one of the greatest places I've ever come and we do everything here, you can see our paintings on the walls, we get hot meals and the camaraderie is great!"
Pat, who is confined to a wheelchair, said he receives the best of care from the warm staff, including nurse co-ordinator Isobel McDonough. "I'm in a wheelchair, I can't get around by myself at all which makes the help here so much appreciated. I'm a lot happier in myself since coming here."
Pat says it all about the importance of the service. The committee behind it, under chairman Tom Pierse, was established in 2006 in response to the need for such a service.
"We were approached by the district nurse to organise a committee to begin the task of preparing for the centre," Tom told The Kerryman. Treasurer Finbar Mawe explained the dire need for it. "Back then north Kerry was a black spot in that it was one of the few regions around with a day care centre for the elderly. One in four older people in north Kerry, then as now, live alone and it was vital we provide a service."
HSE Community Worker Caroline Doyle said the HSE was delighted with the facility's plans for an even bigger future. "When you take that statistic of one in four north Kerry elderly living alone you can see how vital something like this is and it's the exact model of what we want to pursue to provide for our elderly.
"It's open to people over the age of 65 or those over 60 referred on the basis of medical needs. It's a day centre, a place for people to meet up with friends and get hot meals and there's a nurse on hand for anyone who might need medical attention, be it getting blood pressure checked, physiotherapy, chiropody and more."