Carer who ended up in hospital had to call fire brigade to check if infirm husband was okay

Carer who ended up in hospital had to call fire brigade to check if infirm husband was okay

A carer from Dublin has said she had to ring 999 from her hospital bed to get the fire brigade to make sure her husband was okay.

Eileen was a carer for her husband for 10 years, caring for him for 22 hours a day.

Eileen said at one point she ended up in hospital after collapsing with exhaustion while getting a flu jab.

Her husband "had been left in the house in a room and the door was shut...and because new heating had been put in, the heating came on and he was boiling in the room and had no way of contacting anybody.

"I was lying in Vincent’s (Hospital) on a trolley up in A&E and I had to ring 999 for the fire brigade in the area and ask them to come out...I told them where there was a key hidden outside, and if they could they go in and open a door and see if he was alright."

"They were crazy years," Eileen added.

Her husband is now in residential care, but she told Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 about how she now cannot find work.

"I’ve been looking after my husband from my mid-50s to my mid-60s. He is in residential care for the last two years.

"He had an acute stroke in his sleep...he is doubly incontinent, medically very complicated.

"We were assigned (daycare help) two hours a day, Monday to Friday and one hour at the weekend."

Eileen, who left her job to care for her husband, said her pay didn't amount to much and now nobody wants to hire her.

"If you work out the pay that I was being paid per week, it works out about €204 per week (as a carer), and that would work out at €1.26 or €1.27 per hour.

"I was up during the night twice, three times. I had to get him too and from appointments. I couldn’t get a carer before 11.30 in the morning, so I would have to do the main heavy-duty work myself.

"So that was my situation and I can’t get work now because nobody wants me really at this stage. I was in the accounting area."

Eileen said they survived with great difficulty and relied on help from good samaritans.

She added that she felt "wasted" after the 10 years of caring and that she was "sicker than him" at the end.

She said that two years since her husband had entered residential care she was still trying to get onto the healthy ladder.

Eileen said the effort of struggling on her own "has absolutely destroyed my life".

Eileen said her husband is now well looked after in residential care.

When asked if she ever fell down, she said it happened frequently but if her husband (who needed a hoist that took two people to operate to get out of bed) fell on the floor she would have to ring 999 to get the fire brigade to help her lift him back up.

"When he fell down, which was frequent, I’d have to call the fire brigade," she said.

"I couldn’t lift him off the floor, it was too difficult, even with the hoist."

She said the fire brigade would be aware of why they were being called out when Eileen rang them.

"They were brilliant. I can’t say a bad word about any of the people my husband met in hospital, on the frontline. They were all so good. So helpful."

Eileen said she had never wanted to call 999, but her back was against the wall with her situation.

Eileen felt guilty about putting her husband into a residential home even suggesting that they go to one together, adding that at her lowest she thought of "passing on to the next life".

"I’d be happy for us to both go together, I’d be happy to pass on to the next life - that’s when I was at my lowest," she added.


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