Kinvara Holiday Home offers Stewarts Care service users the opportunity to take a holiday away in a peaceful, idyllic environment in the West of Ireland. Families and carers can rest easy in the knowledge that this facility can provide exciting, tailored holidays as well as meet all the needs of the service users regardless of their level of ability. This wonderful venture is run entirely by two people, one of whom is Derek Smith.
Derek first trained as a nurse with Stewarts Care over 45 years ago in 1974. Upon completing his training, he wanted to return home to Galway to work directly with patients, so he took a position with the Brothers of Charity in 1980. He worked as a frontline nurse for many years but later moved in to administration and management. Throughout his many years working with the Brothers of Charity, Derek always maintained a close relationship with Stewarts Care.
In 2012, Stewarts Care approached Derek and asked him to advise them on what to do with their facilities in Kinvara. During the discussion, Derek was jokingly asked if he had plans to retire from the Brothers of Charity any time soon and by his own admission, he had his mind made up in a minute. After a few weeks of consulting his colleagues and his wife, he finally decided to retire from the Brothers of Charity and take up Stewarts Care on their offer to run Kinvara Holiday Home. He said the offer planted a seed in him and he wanted to get back to working directly with patients again. He said, “administration is great and everything but the further to go in, the further you’re removed.” He was originally planning on working at Kinvara Holiday Home for three years, but as he said himself something must be working because eight years on, he’s still there.
Kinvara Holiday Home is a large house with six bedrooms, Galway Bay is its front garden and The Burren its back. Derek describes it as the most beautiful spot in Ireland. With the help of fellow nurse, Rosalyn Behan, the house caters to 2 to 4 service users a week for between 3 and 4 nights. Each holiday is tailored to each group accounting for their like and dislikes and their level of ability. Each week, Derek and Rosalyn drive up to Dublin, collect a bus, collect the service users and bring them all back Kinvara. A whole range of activities are covered on each holiday, from walks and going to the beach, to visiting local restaurants and tourist spots like the Cliffs of Moher and the Aillwee Caves.
In 2019, 124 service users were given a holiday at Kinvara Holiday Home, that’s a holiday every single week of the year. Not only are these holidays amazing experiences for the service users but it also lightens the load staff in Dublin as well as service user families. Derek believes in the idea behind Kinvara Holiday Home, saying it’s not a medical facility, it’s a retreat that provides real life experiences as well as much needed respite for Stewarts Care service users.