Calls for improvements to home care packages

By Mary Dennehy

Walkinstown woman Fiona O’Reilly, who has multiple sclerosis, is the driving force behind a national protest – which is calling for improvements to home care packages and respite care.

In November 2013, Fiona (51) collapsed one day in work, and was shortly after diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive neurological condition.

CRC Firhouse Eamonn Walsh

(Back row) Daiva, Elaine, Bishop Eamonn, Brenda and Theresa, (front row) Rose, Gladys and Linda.

Bishop Eamonn Walsh celebrated a mass for Friendship & Creativity in the Central Remedial Clinic in Firhouse this week. 

Living with her mother (79) and father (80), Fiona uses a wheelchair full-time and through her own experience and working alongside people in the Firhouse Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) in Firhouse, is well aware of the gaps in service for people with disabilities and their carers.

Fiona, who is chairperson of the advocacy group and chairperson of the respite sub-committee at CRC Firhouse, is now raising awareness of a protest outside Leinster House on Wednesday, May 8, at 12pm.

“What we are looking for is an initiative by Government for an improvement in home care packages and an increase in the availability of respite care for those who need it”, Fiona said.

“Increased home care hours have been shown to allow people to stay in their homes for longer, resulting in a better quality of life, while easing both the financial burden and the burden of care that lies on the state.”

In Fiona’s case, she receives around four weeks respite a year, with care workers visiting her home throughout the week to help hoist her in and out of bed and assist with daily tasks such as showering and dressing.

“I get four weeks respite a year, but some people don’t even get that… and not everybody gets respite”, Fiona said.

“This results in families not getting breaks, and getting stressed.

“It’s not a good situation for people if they are not getting respite, carers get burnt out.

“Respite care can be a lifeline for some and allows families and carers the chance of a breathing space while they continue to look after their loved ones.”

According to Fiona, the protest on May 8 will call for suitable respite care facilities that are fully accessible – and include, for example, accessible parking on-site and rooms equipped with ceiling hoist tracks that run into the bathrooms.

Accessible transport should be provided for those who need it and a respite facility within an hour’s drive of Dublin should be developed.

“On May 8 we will be encouraging people to come along and lend their voice in support of all those who have a disability”, Fiona said.

“We will be wearing yellow hats and scarves, as yellow is the colour symbolising hope and if enough people are wearing yellow, it will show our solidarity with each other.

“Let’s come together in reminding our Government that we are out here waiting for action!”

There are currently around 42 people linked in with CRC in Firhouse, with people using the service for a number of reasons including strokes, MS or an acquired brain injury or disability.

Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein) was recently invited to visit the centre, and to meet with service users.

“We need to create access to services that people are entitled to”, Deputy Crowe told The Echo.

“These are all of the basic things that people need to lead a full life, and people shouldn’t have to protest to be heard – we should be delivering these services.”

The protest, which will last for around one hour, will be staged on Wednesday, May 8, at 12pm outside Leinster House.

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