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Social isolation and loneliness are more likely to be reported by older adults, people living with a physical, cognitive or sensory disability or condition (such as dementia or arthritis), and their carers than the general population.   

768,900 adults aged 65 and older (Statista, 2022) and rising. TILDA (2016) report that 37% of people aged 50 and older often felt lonely, rising to 45% after the age of 74. 

643,131 people with a disability (across all age groups) (CSO, 2016), with 32% (205,801 people) at risk of being socially isolated (The Independent Living Movement, 2016). 

1 million people living with arthritis, the largest cause of disability in Ireland, with approximately 83% (830,000 people) reporting feeling lonely (Arthritis Ireland, 2021). 

64000 people currently living with dementia, expected to rise to 150,000 by 2050, with 62% (39,680) reporting feelings of loneliness and social isolation (Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, 2023; 2018). 



All Irish Dance (AID) offers innovative training solutions empowering people to lead inclusive, adaptive, person-centred Irish (group, social) céilí dance activities in local communities/care settings for older adults, people with physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities and conditions. Based on the TREE model of inclusion, the training enables activity leaders to adapt their Teaching styles, Rules, Equipment and the Environment within which the activity takes place to an individual needs and abilities. 

SEI Journey 

Ideas Academy 2023


Combined with conversations with Ideas Academy colleagues and 1:1 session with SEI, empathy research allowed Carmel to challenge her preconceived notions of the social problem. She had a major ‘aha’ moment when she realised that the primary social problem addressed by AID is, in fact, that of social isolation. The Ideas Academy enabled Carmel to define the mission, vision and values of her project, to identify and engage key stakeholders and to develop her social media and storytelling skills. Carmel was awarded €4,000 in seed funding at the end of the Ideas Academy programme. She will use this to pilot All Irish Dance, including delivering training, hiring a venue and using specialist photography and videography. Feedback from the pilot will be used to inform future iterations of the full-length training programme. 

The Ideas Academy has had the biggest impact on my social entrepreneur mindset… Hearing others stories and helping create solutions for them helped me think differently about my own project.”


Carmel McKenna is the founder of All Irish Dance






Ideas Academy 2023