Over the last two weeks on PivotDublin we have read how Ireland is ageing, representing one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our times. There is an international recognition that we will have to transform our cities into more age-friendly places. In today’s last post, I describe a preventive health project based in St James’ Hospital that will use existing community resources to effect this change in our part of the city.
The project is modelled on a similar initiative in the University of Chicago, with whom we have partnered: the Southside Health and Vitality Studies. The project in Dublin is designed for older health users, and is called LAMP – the Local Asset Mapping Project.
LAMP has two elements:
The first is the comprehensive assessment of the health of older community-dwelling patients in St James’ catchment area. The health assessment is designed to pick up on undetected illnesses such as hypertension, depression or cognitive impairment.
The second element is the systematic mapping of all resources – i.e. all the assets, public, private or voluntary- in the area that might affect health. It will involve assessment of the quality of the urban streetscape, and ease of access to these assets, using universal design principles.
The asset map will be created by local school students and community volunteers using an app developed by Esri Ireland.
The information gathered will be provided to healthcare users and providers in the form of an asset-map. We have piloted this process in the Liberties with our partners in community – the South Inner City Community Development Association and Warrenmount Presentation School. LAMP will be a unique partnership between hospital, community, schools and academia. Asset-mapping will be a learning experience for students, and will encourage intergenerational solidarity.
We intend to layer data provided by community asset mapping over other sources such as census, or hospital clinical activity. We hope the asset information will be a useful tool for patients and healthcare providers, by informing the comprehensive health assessment and providing a suite of tools for intervention.
Lastly, we anticipate that mapping out health need and health assets in this way will allow St James’ Hospital to measure the impact on the use of emergency services, and identify any gaps in service provision.
Our vision is that filling in these gaps will afford opportunities for new design and application of technologies – in the fields of telehealth, telecare and telemedicine. Watch this space as we shed some LAMP-light on assets in the Liberties!
Dr David Robinson is a geriatrician at St James’s Hospital, with interests in community and environmental geriatric medicine, healthy ageing and dementia. He graduated from Trinity College in 1996 and trained in Queensland, Australia and the South Dublin Geriatric Medicine training scheme. He has published on factors involved in healthy ageing in Dublin, and the ethics of resource allocation for Ireland’s older adults.