In 1999 a four year training programme in Primary Health Care was undertaken by a group of Traveller women. Three of these women are now employed by the HSE as Traveller Community Health Workers. They are Kathleen O’Reilly, Ellen O’Reilly and Kate Reilly.
This peer led model for Primary Health Care was developed in response to a recommendation in the Task Force on the Travelling Community (1995) Report which acknowledged the poor health status of Travellers and recognised that mainstream health service provision had not met the needs of Travellers.
The aim of the TCHW project is to work with health service providers in the delivery of health information to the Traveller community. The Traveller Community Health Workers act as liaison between services and the community to bring about an increase in the uptake of services and improve the health status of Travellers in South Tipperary. The Traveller Community Health Workers have an office base in Clonmel and travel out to families in Clonmel, Cahir, Cashel, Tipperary, Fethard, Killenaule, Ballinure and Ballinonty.
The role of the Traveller Community Health Worker is to:
- To carry out Child Health Visits to Traveller families on a two monthly basis
- To act as an effective link between the Traveller service users and the health service providers.
- To support and encourage families to attend appointments issued by the health service providers.
- To work with families to identify barriers in service uptake.
- To offer support to families in dealing with correspondence from health and other services.
- To inform families of current health initiatives.
- To organise training sessions on health topics for groups of Traveller women in the area.
- To deliver in-service training on Traveller Cultural Awareness to front line staff and other agencies engaging with Travellers.
- To participate in research on Traveller health issues as requested by the HSE, the Traveller Health Unit or other relevant agencies.
- To represent the Traveller community on local, regional and national committees, working groups and other agencies.
For further information on the work of the project please contact the TCHW Support Worker Julie Fleming on (052) 6170947 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.