‘Don’t leave us caring alone, give us the tools and supports’ - Mother

By Mary Dennehy

MEET Sammy, a very busy and social 28-year-old who lives with mam Rosemary and dad Siegi Kratschmar in Walkinstown..

Sammy, who has Down syndrome, is cared by mam Rosemary full-time in the home – with the family sharing their story to raise awareness of Family Carers Ireland as the country celebrates Carers Week 2021.

Family Carers Sammy and parents 1

Sammy at home with mam Rosemary and dad Siegi

“Sammy is well able, but he needs care in the home,” Rosemary told The Echo.

“He’s a great kid, he’s very good and very entertaining but you can’t take your eyes off him.

“He’s busy…always on the go, looking for the next thing to do.”

When The Echo spoke with Rosemary over the phone, Sammy and dad Siegi were enjoying a game of pool at the family home.

Rosemary spoke of the great support she has from family, including Sammy’s three older sisters, and organisations like Family Carers Ireland and Stewarts Care in Palmerstown.

However, she believes there is a need for Government to support carers, giving families the tools and resources to care for a loved one – and themselves.

Since the restrictions eased, Sammy is back attending Stewarts Care four days a week.

However, his transport to and from school has not resumed, with his parents doing the daily round trips.

“We need to get things back up and running,” Rosemary said.

“We need to get the kids back in their hubs and back on their buses.

“We need respite back up-and-running as well.

“Stewarts Care were very good during lockdown… they did activities on Zoom every day, like singing, music and yoga.

“Not all of the young people were able to engage, but Sammy could, and he loved seeing his friends.”

She added: “For the first 15 years of Sammy’s life he didn’t sleep one full night.

“We got respite, which was invaluable… and practical and personal support from Family Carers Ireland.

“I was involved with Family Carers Ireland for a long while before I realised, I was there for me, not my son.

“Everything we do is for our children; we’re always trying to get them the services and supports they need.

“I’d be floundering if it wasn’t for Family Carers Ireland.

“They are real back-up…and go above and beyond to help their clients with practical and personal support.

“They can also provide carers in the home for people who don’t have family nearby or any backup…people need a break.

“There is always someone to talk to [at Family Carers Ireland], a problem shared is a problem halved.”

As the country marks Carers Week, Rosemary, who since 2019 is on the Board of Family Carers Ireland, believes more support and recognition is needed from a Government-level.

“We all saw, for example, how important carers were during the pandemic, and I feel that the Government should have vaccinated carers sooner than they did,” she said.

“A lot of carers are minding very vulnerable children.

“Who would mind your child if you got sick?

“Also, when a child receives a special needs diagnosis, the family should be handed a medical card… it relieves a lot of stress, and financial stress.

“Sammy was 16 when we received a medical card.

“Help carers to do what they don’t mind doing. 

“Don’t leave us caring alone, give us the tools and supports to do our best.”

Support local families like the Kratschmars by taking part in Family Carers Ireland’s Paws for a Cause, which invites people to walk 24k in seven days – with or without a dog.

Members of the public are asked to walk in solidarity with family carers over the course of Carers Week, which runs from June 7 to June 13.

There are also lots of workshops, courses and relaxation events organised for families over the week.

Full details at www.familycarers.ie or www.carersweek.ie.

Anyone in need of support can call Family Carers’ national freephone helpline on 1800 24 07 24.  

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