Family carers pleased with HSE agreement

by Gazette Reporter

ELEVEN family carers of young adults with profound disabilities are pleased with the recent terms outlined by the HSE after their controversial proposal to cut day care services in September.
The family members, now dubbed The Stewarts 11, recently came to an agreement with the HSE over the issue of proposed cuts in resources and placements in Stewarts Hospital in Palmerstown.
Although details of the outcome remain undisclosed, the family carers whose children attend Stewarts Hospital are generally happy with the terms they achieved.
Brendan Gorman, father and full-time carer from Clondalkin, believes that without the 11 family members’ strenuous efforts of pressurising the HSE to withdraw their intended proposals, they would have been met with unparalleled difficulties.
“I wrote to Ruairi Quinn [Minister for Education] and stated our utter contempt for the decision that the Government is making in the HSE, and how it is both unacceptable and unconstitutional,” he said.
“If there were no services for us come September, it would have a  devastating impact on us. How would parents cope indefinitely without these services?”
Family members were told earlier this summer that their children who were attending day services in Stewarts Hospital were not guaranteed any placement or service in September or would receive a reduced service due to cutbacks in the Department of Education.
Brendan, whose son Ryan (18) suffers from epilepsy and autism, says that looking after his son is a full-time task and that the HSE’s initial proposal to reduce or cut services in Stewarts Hospital was a “ruthless insult”.
“I have a sense of responsibility and love for my son. The hundreds of other family members in Ireland with children with profound disabilities, such as Ryan’s, will understand exactly how essential a normal five day a week caring placement is.
“For over six weeks now I’ve been working around the clock to look after Ryan. I receive €188 per week for a 168 hour a week job. This is the equivalent of €1.11 per hour,” said Gorman.
New figures from the HSE state most of the 800-plus young people in Ireland with intellectual disabilities leaving school will get some form of day service.
However, almost half will only get a partial service; while a further 38 young people have no service available to them at all.
“We’ve got to be mindful that there are many parents out there still in the same position where their issue hasn’t been resolved. We may be the first group in Ireland who have actually attained a successful bargaining as a result of pressuring the HSE,” said Brendan.
Cllr Gino Kenny (PBP) says the worry and anxiety alone of the idea that children and their families will have no service in September is incomprehensible.
“I find the mere insinuation reprehensible that they could even think of this course of action. There should be no ambiguity for parents now or in the future about their children’s educational needs,” he said.
In previous years, when teens turned 18 they were provided with identical adult services to ensure the specialist care they needed continues.
However, despite the repeated warnings of a rise in demand, the HSE has provided Stewarts Hospital with just a third of the €600,000 budget the facility believes it needs to cope with the increase.
The HSE had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press.

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