A new European research project valued at €4million, aimed at managing active and healthy ageing through the use of caring service robots has recently begun at NUI Galway.
The MARIO project brings together a consortium of partners from academic institutions and industry across Europe, led by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway.
Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, within the thematic section ‘Societal Challenge on Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing’, it assembles a team of international experts from academia, industry and dementia groups to work collaboratively in tackling the burdens imposed by dementia and developing innovative solutions using caring robots.
The €4 million project will last for three years during which three pilot studies of robots interacting with people with dementia will be undertaken.
The first pilot will run in the West of Ireland, organised by NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, the second will run in Stockport, UK, organised by the city’s health care managers, while the third will run in Italy, organised by a leading research hospital, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, which is pushing research boundaries in comprehensive geriatric assessment.
The project’s communication strategist, Professor Kathy Murphy of NUI Galway explains: “MARIO is an exciting and innovative project that will make a huge difference to the lives of people with dementia.
“We will be working directly with people with dementia to ensure that the issues they see as important are addressed. Multi-faceted interventions will be developed, which will be delivered by humanoid robots.”
The technology at the heart of MARIO is the robot Kompai, designed and developed by a consortium partner, French company Robosoft. Other partners in the consortium will provide technological expertise in the areas of robotic applications and semantic computing.
All the outcomes of the research will be made public. These are expected to be of great benefit to people with dementia as well as lead to commercial opportunities for cutting-edge technology companies.
Project coordinator, Dr Dympna Casey of NUI Galway, said of these pilot studies: “All interactions with caregivers, persons with dementia, older persons and stakeholders will fully comply with standards-based medical assessment methodologies, and aspire to provide a truly user-led design ethos.”
Professor Murphy added: “The project will follow an open door communications policy. The project is funded by the European Commission and its results belong to all the citizens of the European Union.”
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.