‘HUGE PROBLEMS’ IN LOUTH RESPITE
DIFFICULTIES FACED BY MANY FAMILIES WERE RAISED DURING DEBATE
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.