The Argus - - NEWS - By OLIVIA RYAN

THE ‘dire’ cir­cum­stances of fam­i­lies in Louth who need to ac­cess re­spite care for loved ones was raised dur­ing a Dail de­bate last week.

Min­is­ter of State for Dis­abil­i­ties, Finian McGrath faced a se­ries of crit­i­cisms from a num­ber of Louth TD’s on the is­sue.

And he made the ad­mis­sion there were ‘ huge prob­lems’ in Louth, adding ‘Of course, I ac­cept that it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to do some­thing about it.’

Louth TD Gerry Adams raised his con­cerns about the is­sues, say­ing that he was con­tacted reg­u­larly by fam­i­lies ‘who are in dire need and they all have a sim­i­lar tale of never-end­ing fights to ac­cess ser­vices from the State which should be theirs by right. There is a par­tic­u­lar ab­sence of suf­fi­cient sched­uled re­spite ser­vices for cit­i­zens with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and com­plex needs.’

He said he had raised the sit­u­a­tion faced by ‘Sam’ and his fam­ily. ‘ Sam is an 18 year old man with se­vere autism, chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour and com­plex needs. He is now 18 and as a re­sult he can­not avail of pre­vi­ous re­spite ser­vices that he once at­tended. The fam­ily is con­stantly wor­ried about what may hap­pen if there is a fam­ily cri­sis and they can­not care for him. His mother has met with the Min­is­ter, Deputy Si­mon Har­ris, and the Min­is­ter of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, and she is meet­ing with the HSE’s early years man­ager. She built a com­mu­nity-led cam­paign which has sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als to the Gov­ern­ment yet it seems that her son’s needs are in­visible. The Min­is­ter is aware of th­ese cases and he can­not ab­di­cate re­spon­si­bil­ity to the lo­cal HSE area be­cause it has not been given suf­fi­cient re­sources to ex­pand ser­vices.’

Louth Deputy, De­clan Breath­nach also high­lighted a num­ber of dif­fi­cult cases, where lo­cal fam­i­lies were strug­gling, in­clud­ing the fam­ily of a 26 year old se­verely dis­abled daugh­ter who have been look­ing for proper re­spite care for three years.

‘Even when she gives a few months’ no­tice, she is told there is none avail­able.’

He spoke of a 93 year old man look­ing af­ter a 53 year old son with Down’s syn­drome, who needs re­spite.

‘His daugh­ter helps out but has her own teenage daugh­ter with Down’s syn­drome to look af­ter. And an 80 year old lady who suf­fered a stroke in April is the main carer for her with Down’s syn­drome of 36 years of age. The mum now has her own care needs and they do not know how they will cope.

He called for im­me­di­ate ac­tion for fam­i­lies who were in need.

‘ This can­not be al­lowed to con­tinue in­def­i­nitely,’ said Deputy Breath­nach.

Min­is­ter McGrath re­sponded, say­ing: ‘I ac­cept the Deputies’ ar­gu­ment that there are huge prob­lems in Louth. Of course, I ac­cept that it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to do some­thing about it. I am open to all prac­ti­cal pro­pos­als.’

He said he had been ad­vised by the HSE that ad­di­tional fund­ing would be re­quired for the de­vel­op­ment of re­spite ser­vices in Louth but that no such fund­ing is avail­able in the 2017 bud­get al­lo­ca­tion.

‘From my point of view, I will con­tinue to seek ad­di­tional fund­ing for re­spite and res­i­den­tial places as part of the on­go­ing dis­cus­sions on the 2018 Es­ti­mates process.’

He added: ‘It is also im­por­tant to be aware that within six months of this Gov­ern­ment’s cre­ation we were the first to res­tore the re­spite care grant. There are 121,000 peo­ple - some of those fam­i­lies the Deputies are talk­ing about - get­ting €1,700 to buy their own re­spite ser­vices in­de­pen­dently in the mean­time un­til we fix the prob­lems that have been ne­glected for many years.’

Re­spite ser­vices in St Mary’s Drum­car were dis­cussed.

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