Wexford People

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Sean has strong vision for Hope Centre

Ensuring the highest standards of service delivery are met is high on agenda for new manager


Sean McCarthy

Sean McCarthy

Sean McCarthy

The recently appointed manager of the Hope Cancer Support Centre in Enniscorthy has a strong vision for the facility, which provides an invaluable service to the people of Wexford and the south east.

Sean McCarthy took up the position full-time in October and he works in the centre three days-per-week.

Though living in Waterford the father-of-three is originally from Bellefield in Enniscorthy and has always been familiar with the work done in the centre.

Speaking to this newspaper about his vision for the future he said he plans to ensure it remains an important support for people across the county.

'The fact the centre is located in Enniscorthy is ideal for the county because it is very central,' he said.

'National development will impact on how the Hope Centre will develop,' he added.

There is a national cancer programme being worked on at present relating to services across the country and Mr McCarthy said that with an increase in people requiring cancer support the Hope centre will play a key role in that.

He said it's important for facilities like the Hope Centre to be informed about what national strategies are being developed.

Mr McCarthy was involved in the group that assisted the Irish Hospice Foundation in developing a framework for people affected by cancer and also bereavement support 'across all forms of bereavement'.

Emphasising the need to assist people who have been bereaved and continue ongoing support for people affected by cancer he commented: 'I would like to make sure we have enough information and provision of information at the centre and supports available.'

'We want people to know what they can expect if they come to the Hope Centre,' he added.

Setting a very high standard of support provision is also something high on the agenda for Mr McCarthy.

'I would like us to expand our services and group support and do it to the highest possible standards,' he said.

'All of our counsellors are properly accredited and qualified,' he added, while highlighting the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach.

'My vision is to bring all of our services up to the highest possible standard that we can with all of the supports and services that we provide.'

'It's all about the people that come here, they are the ones that are important,' said Mr McCarthy.

'We also have to plan for a service that will be growing going forward,' he added, while commenting that society in general appears to be 'much more aware of cancer now'.

'We have to plan for five or 10 years time as to what we will need,' he said.

'We will have to expand physically as well as developing the services that people are looking for,' he added.

Mr McCarthy's involvement in the mental health sector goes back as far as 1981 when he started working in the area after qualifying as a psychiatric nurse.

'After I qualified I worked as a staff nurse in the mental health service in Waterford for four years,' he said.

In the late 1980s Mr McCarthy took up a role in forensic mental health services in Maidstone, England, which was part of the overall services provided in Kent.

One of the roles he and his colleagues carried out at that time was assisting people involved with the courts and he also worked with the Broadmoor Mental Hospital service in Brampton and in other parts of the south east of England.

Having spent a number of years working in the UK he returned to Ireland in 1991 and took up another role in Waterford with the mental health services.

Eight years later he became Ireland's first ever Regional Suicide Resource Officer and his responsibilities included overseeing the implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide prevention across the five counties that comprised the former South Eastern Health Board.

Mr McCarthy was also involved in the committee that devised specific recommendations for a national task force on suicide prevention and in County Wexford he devised the county's Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2002, making the county the first in Ireland to have such an initiative in place.

'We also developed a bereavement counselling service and that started in Wexford and was then developed across the south east,' said Mr McCarthy.

That service is available to everybody and Mr McCarthy commented that around 200 people avail of it each year.

He was also a member of the steering group for the SHIP (Self Harm Intervention Programme), which is aimed specifically at people at risk of self harm or having suicidal thoughts.

'It started in Wexford and then rolled out across the south east,' he said.

Mr McCarthy is also the first Irish person to receive the international Farberow award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in recognition of his work in the area of suicide bereavement and loss.

With regard to his involvement with the Hope Centre he is very appreciative of the support that the people of Wexford give to the facility.

'The support of the people of the people of Wexford is very important here because we couldn't do anything without them,' he said.

'They provide 80 per cent of the funding we get to keep this service open,' he added.

'For me as manager that is a massive factor because people have other pressures because of the economy; what we need to do is increase state funding that we get [through the HSE and Tusla] and from a grant through the Irish Cancer Society.'

'We are very appreciative of what people do to support us,' said Mr McCarthy.

While only around 20 per cent funding comes from the state Mr McCarthy said that figure should be '100 per cent funding' and highlighted that funding from the state essentially comes 'from the people of the state'.

He also hopes to expand services: 'Another plan I have is to increase our outreach into Gorey, Wexford and New Ross through talks around cancer.'

'The Hope Centre is for the county, not just Enniscorthy,' he added.

Wexford People