Funding for the reopening of the Hillside Center hydrotherapy pool in Cavan is expected next year.
The pool, which cost €440,000 to build, has only been used for six months since it opened in 2018. Funding has come from donations from local groups and members of the public and Enable Ireland, which runs services at the Hillside Centre.
Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte was shocked to find the pool was empty during a visit to Cavan last month and encouraged staff and the HSE to submit a business case to her department.
In response to a parliamentary question from local TD Niamh Smyth (FF), HSE local health department disability manager Edel Quinn said the business case had now been received.
“Enable Ireland has submitted a business case to the HSE, which is currently going through the business case process,” she said in a letter to Deputy Smyth.
“Funding to cover the salary costs of a full-time pool attendant position and the unpaid running costs of the pool is being sought.”
Enable Ireland confirmed to Celt last month that annual costs of €56,858 were expected, including salaries and running costs.
Hydrotherapy pools are used in rehabilitation programs, with temperature, water movement and currents being controlled to aid in the user’s physiotherapy. A decision on the allocation of any funding to the pool is not expected until next year’s operating budget. Ms Quinn says the local health department will ‘seek to secure the necessary funding within its 2023 budget allocation through its submission to the national HSE through the estimation process’.
Remedial work is also needed as the swimming pool has not been used for three years, lack of necessary staff and pandemic restrictions impacting services. It is understood that this work is currently progressing with costs covered by Enable Ireland.
During her visit, Minister Rabbitte suggested that the pool be open to external groups or organizations for a fee in order to secure additional funding. The HSE has also confirmed that this option is under consideration:
“Enable Ireland will also explore the possibility of providing pool access to other groups in the area and having the pool available in the evenings and at weekends. It is expected that revenue generated from this extended use will support the upkeep and maintenance of the pool.
However, the impact of expanding the use of the pool on staffing is unclear, especially since funding is only being sought for one full-time staff member.
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