MyGroupNI Portal | Home 24 April 2014




 A group of concerned parents and carers of people with a learning disability in the County Down area came together in 1989 with one common goal – to create a local service providing the high quality care and support their loved ones required close to their family homes.

The result was the formation of a charity the following year – then called Downe Residential Project - which also recognised the need for the families and carers of those living with a learning disability to avail of support and assistance in the area.

Created as a direct response to the lack of necessary services available for people with severe learning disabilities, the charity began by providing residential care in Downpatrick.

The project, now called Mainstay DRP, has expanded and developed over the years adapting the type of care offered to clients as their individual needs change.

Respite care, supported housing, day-care services and vocational training are all provided alongside the original residential care facility. Most recently, the organisation has found that people with learning disabilities from outside the Down district are seeking to avail of their exceptional standard of quality care and support services.

Today, Mainstay DRP is one of the largest employers in the Downpatrick area providing jobs to 135 people.



Residential Care
The charity has almost two decades of experience providing residential care in Co Down. An exceptionally low staff turnover within the organisation has allowed a sense of security and familiarity to form between the staff and residents as well as ensuring a continuity of care.

The service is available at two houses - Iniscora and Inismor. Each resembling a large family home, a maximum of nine residents live in each building.


Respite Care
Recognising the need for parents and carers to have a break from the often stressful daily routine of looking after a person with a severe learning disability, a respite care service was developed by the charity to provide additional support to the family unit.

A service very much in demand, Mainstay DRP’s aim is to provide a memorable, fun-filled stay for those availing of respite. This short-term care service is provided at two tailor made bungalows - Ardcora and Iniscora.

Ardcora bungalow provides respite care throughout the year to over 25 adults with severe autism and severe learning from the Greater Belfast and South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust areas. Meanwhile, regular respite care is provided at Iniscora bungalow to 20 adults with learning disabilities from the Co Down area.


Supported Housing
Mainstay DRP is continuously developing ways to improve the quality of life of the clients using their service.

The charity began to look at ways to introduce a new living arrangements for people with a learning disability following the replacement of long-stay hospitals with the Care In The Community policy of maintaining support in the home environment.

As a result, the supported housing service Rathdree was planned, designed and made a reality.

The Rathdree service was established not only to provide support and accommodation for those with learning disabilities, but to assist them in become housing tenants and more active participants in community life.

From the warmth of a comfortable, secure, beautifully decorated home of their own, Rathdree tenants control how they live from managing their own personal finances to owning a front door key - all with support of Mainstay DRP’s trained staff. Each tenant has a spacious en-suite bedroom to ensure privacy and personal space.

Taking responsibility for his or her own household tasks makes up part of their daily routine, but they also find time to socialise with each other and their families as often they wish with regular shopping trips and visits to the cinema.

The organisation has found that the level of distress and/or challenging behaviour has reduced dramatically in many adults with learning disabilities who have made the transition from long-stay hospitals or residential homes to supported housing.

With more freedom and opportunity available, the tenants have gradually include themselves in the community - with the help of staff whom they have bonded with.


Day Care
Pottery, woodwork, hands on horticulture lessons and computer studies are just a few of the numerous skills development activities devised as part of Mainstay DRP’s day care facilities.

And that’s not all…there’s also socialising to be done too!

With trips to the cinema, Belfast Zoo or relaxing yoga classes regularly organised, there is a something to suit everyone of the 65 adults with a learning disability using this service.



Vocational Training
The next time you visit the Down County Museum in Downpatrick, pop into the Gaoler’s Kitchen cafe.

There you’ll find the Mainstay DRP team cooking in the kitchen or serving customers a nice pot of tea.

Operated in partnership with the Down District Council and Down Lisburn Trust, The Gaoler’s Kitchen offers comfortable surroundings with spectacular views of both the Mound of Down and Inch Abbey.

Home made soup and a selection of filled pittas and wraps are just some of the dishes served with a smile to locals and tourists alike visiting the museum to find out more about historic eras such as Early Christianity, the Norman invasion, and, of course, Saint Patrick.

A popular eatery, Mainstay DRP provides opportunities for people with a learning disability to train in catering and customer service as part of the charity’s vocational training programme.

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