Last updated: 1st April 2020

The current outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is an unprecedented and evolving situation. However, we have plans in place and will continue to provide support to Clients and Volunteers throughout this worrying time whilst complying with best practice HSE guidelines.

We are monitoring the situation and will continue to update our website in order to provide you with the latest advice. Please check back regularly.

If you have any concerns or questions, or need any support, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Technical, Client Services, Puppy Raising or Dog Care teams.

Our Training Centre and Offices

We have closed our National Training Centre in Cork and our Dublin office to all except essential staff and we have asked remaining staff to work from home where possible. We will however continue to have staff available to support Clients and Volunteers during normal business hours (9.00a.m. to 5.00p.m. Monday to Friday) and critical staff will continue to be “on call” to support you outside of normal business hours, if required.

What we have done/are doing

The safety of and our commitment to our Clients, Volunteers, Staff and Dogs and the standard of care and support they receive remains a top priority for us during this difficult time.

Volunteers

We are working on identifying Volunteers throughout Ireland who can free run or temporary board dogs for Clients and Volunteers who are self-isolating or “cocooning” as per government guidelines. We have also put in place best practice protocols to protect Clients, Volunteers and their families. If any Volunteers need a letter confirming that they are supporting Clients with free running of their Guide Dog/Assistance Dog (as this may be required to allow movement during current restrictions), please contact Anne Linehan, Client Services Administrator, via email at alinehan@guidedogs.ie and she will provide this letter to you via email.

Dog Care

Members of our Dog Care team are on call to support Clients and Volunteers with any concerns/questions regarding welfare, or who need medical advice about their dog. Broodbitch holders can contact the Dog Care team for support. To contact a member of our Dog Care team, please call 021 487 8240 / 085 859 7114 from 8.00am to 8.00pm or Maeve McCluskey, Supervisor on 085 874 4718 or mmccluskey@guidedogs.ie or Carole McCarthy, Supervisor on 085 859 7117 or carolemccarthy@guidedogs.ie from 8.00pm to 8.00am / outside of daytime hours.

Puppy Raising

Puppy Raising Supervisors are available to support Puppy Raising Volunteers with training their pup at walk. If you need support, please contact your assigned Puppy Raising Supervisor or alternatively, contact Erin McDonald, Shared Services Supervisor, via telephone at 087 994 5115 or via email at erin@guidedogs.ie.

Technical Team

Our Technical Team are on hand to support the aftercare of Clients, the training of dogs and support of Volunteers. See Key Contact Information.

Royal Canin

We are maintaining contact with Royal Canin in relation to the availability of and delivery times of food to Clients and Volunteers we have increased the buffer of stock at HQ to cover any emergencies. We will keep you updated as there are developments in the “Royal Canin Food Ordering” section of this page. We have been notified that the lead times have increased to 10 days due to current demand for certain products. For any Clients or Volunteers experiencing difficulties in ordering please contact your Puppy Raising Supervisor or a member of our Dog Care team, please call 021 487 8240 / 085 859 7114 from 8.00am to 8.00pm or Maeve McCluskey, Supervisor on 085 874 4718 or mmccluskey@guidedogs.ie or Carole McCarthy, Supervisor on 085 859 7117 or carolemccarthy@guidedogs.ie from 8.00pm to 8.00am / outside of daytime hours.

Aftercare

We have stopped all face-to-face Aftercare support for Guide Dog and Assistance Dog Clients for the moment and have moved to delivering Aftercare via telephone or online interactions, where practicable, to offer continued support. We are currently examining options to deliver Aftercare remotely using technology such as Skype, WhatsApp Video etc. and possibly support from friends and family of Clients.

Guide Dog and Assistance Dog Programmes

On our Guide Dog and Assistance Dog Programmes, we have stopped all residential classes while current restrictions remain in place. Due to the current nationwide restrictions on movement and activity, it is now not possible to place and train Clients on our Guide Dog or Assistance Dog Programmes. However, we are developing individual Client risk assessments and training plans for in domiciliary (one-to-one in home) training for Guide Dog and Assistance Dog applicants and reviewing if we can deliver this training in a safe manner when current restrictions are lifted. We will keep all Clients currently in training/awaiting training up to date on developments.

Orientation & Mobility 

We have stopped residential Orientation & Mobility classes and face-to-face in domiciliary training while current restrictions remain in place. We are currently examining options to deliver this training remotely using technology such as Skype, WhatsApp Video etc. and possibly support from friends and family of Clients.

Independent Living Skills

We have stopped residential Independent Living Skills (ILS) classes and face-to-face in domiciliary training while current restrictions remain in place. We are currently examining options to deliver this training remotely using technology such as Skype, WhatsApp Video etc. and possibly support from friends and family of Clients.

Child Mobility

We have stopped face-to-face Child Mobility visits while current restrictions remain in place. We are currently examining distance learning options for existing training programmes and the viability of creating new training programmes specifically suited to distance learning for visually impaired children.

Applications

We will process current applications and give information to visually impaired members of our community who wish to apply for our Guide Dog, Orientation & Mobility or Independent Living Skills Programmes.

Assistance Dog Programme

We were due to re-open the application process for our Assistance Dog Programme in April 2020. We are currently reviewing if this is something that we can progress while current restrictions remain in place. We will look to open this list as soon as practical when restrictions are lifted. We will give details of when this list will be opened once a decision has been made.

 

We will continue to adapt how we support you in light of the changing situation, and in line with government advice. We will resume our normal pattern of work as soon as possible, bearing in mind our duty of care to our Clients, Volunteers and Staff.

We will continue to post up to date advice and guidance.

Please follow us on Social Media or refer back to our website regularly.

Covid-19: HSE guidelines

The HSE have produced easy to read information sheets regarding COVID-19 symptoms and cocooning.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Cocooning