In 2008, PAUL Partnership and the HSE successfully made a joint application to the Combat Poverty Agency for funding to support the development of community participation in the primary care teams[1].  A Steering Group, consisting of representatives from PAUL Partnership, the HSE (the Primary Community and Continuing Care section of the HSE in Limerick, health professionals in the Primary Care Team from nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, GPs and Health Promotion), RAPID, Limerick Regeneration Agencies and the communities of Moyross, Ballynanty, Kileely and Thomondgate, was formed to oversee the project.

The primary purpose of the Project was to promote engagement of the communities of Moyross, Ballynanty, Kileely and Thomondgate with local health services delivery, focusing on the Primary Care Team (PCT).  Community participation in primary care is essential to ensuring that Primary Care Teams work with the community to meet their health needs.  It can inform the way that health services are delivered and improve the health and well-being of people who live there.  Specifically, the overall aim of the Project was to ensure that there is community participation on the primary care team within the area.

In order to meet the above aims, a training programme on Participatory Appraisal Methods was designed and delivered to seven community representatives and four members of the Primary Care Team. Participatory Appraisal (PA) is a label given to a growing family of participatory research methodologies/approaches that emphasize local knowledge and enable local people to make their own appraisal, analysis and plans. The participants worked in four teams, and each team engaged with a number of groups in the community to identify their health needs.  These groups included children, young people, parents, older people and members of the travelling community. The data that was gathered was collated, analysed and presented back to the community in a number of different settings.

After the completion of the training, the research and the presentation of the data back to the community, most of those that took part in various capacities in the project—members of the Steering Group and members of the research team—agreed to continue working together as part of the Northside Community Health Forum. The primary roles of the Forum are to nominate and support representatives from the community onto the Primary Care Team and to facilitate effective communication between the community and the PCT.  The Forum has developed an action plan and is working to ensure that the PCT is fully informed of the health needs of the community and that, in turn, the community are fully aware of the services available through the PCT.

PAUL Partnership and the HSE are now planning to develop this initiative with other Primary Care Teams in Limerick City.

The learning from this project has been documented in the attached toolkit and newsletter:

Sustainable Community Participation in Primary Care:  A Toolkit for Community Involvement in Primary Care Areas

Community Participation in Primary Care Newsletter


[1] Primary Care is an approach to health that focused on keeping people healthy within their own communities. Primary Care services are delivered by a Primary Care Team locally and are the first point of contact for local communities. GPs, nurses/midwives, home helps, community welfare officers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers are members of the Primary Care Team.