Presenting the award, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board said;
‘The HRB Impact Award recognises people who use their research to create real changes in health and care. Prof McCarron has an incredible track record of translating her research into practice. As a result she is now is delivering better health and care, creating award winning housing projects and driving policy change that is transforming the lives of people with intellectual Disability as they age.’
‘The approach she has taken, involving this community and giving them a real voice, is also having global impact. Many of her findings, and the change she is leading, are directly transferable to the general population who are ageing too, which is attracting major interest both nationally and internationally.’
Accepting the HRB Impact Award, Prof Mary McCarron, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Ageing and Intellectual Disability at Trinity College Dublin said;
‘It is a very humbling moment to receive this level of recognition. I am so appreciative of the support I have received from the Health Research Board over so many years. I could not have achieved any of this without the many colleagues who have worked with me, and the students, research fellows and interviewers who have made all of the data collections and analyses possible’.
‘Most of all, I am grateful to the people with intellectual disabilities, their families and the service providers who have gone above and beyond to collaborate with us, support us, guide us, and, ultimately, to give us answers to help shape ageing for people with ID in Ireland. Not to mention more questions to investigate’.
According to Mary, ‘This Award recognises work I have done to date, alongside people with ID, my team and international colleagues. I can see the real benefits of what has been achieved, but there is much more to do. One of my key achievements has been the establishment of a Memory Clinic at the Daughters of Charity Service which has transformed the lives of people who access it. However there is real inequity of access, with many people and their carers struggling to get a diagnosis and post diagnostic support.’
People with an intellectual disability are living longer, but continue to experience significant health disparities, with the average age of death 19 years younger than for the general population. Health problems often go unrecognised and unmet, as people with ID are largely excluded from health screenings and targeted health promotions. They are often absent from the decisions that affect them the most, including financial and retirement planning, choice of residence and desired levels of care.
‘The legacy I want to leave is that we have the services and supports available so that every person with ID will experience happy and healthy lives in old age’.