Deaf man’s care regime impeded by lack of interpreter

A Cork woman has aired her frustration at the lack of interpreters available for her deaf son who also has schizophrenia.

Jo, who works in a pub in Cork, also revealed that six of her customers took up sign language to aid her 38-year-old son John, who has had a number of psychiatric appointments cancelled because his HSE-appointed interpreter has failed to show.

His mother outlined her story on RTÉ Radio 1’s Liveline yesterday.

“I require the assistance of their interpreter four times a year and they have let me down, not turned up, rang me at the last minute and no interpreter available,” she said.

Jo said that John was due to have an appointment on Monday afternoon only for his interpreter service to call on Friday afternoon to inform her that they would not be available.

“I was working on Friday when I got this phone call, I can’t ring somebody up then at seven or eight o’clock on a Friday night to know if they can do this job for me on Monday,” she said.

Jo said that on another occasion her interpreter gave her an hour’s notice to cancel the appointment.

”How can you expect a doctor to treat a patient if they don’t know their language? It is incredible,” she said.

Jo said that John, who has never spoken, gets annoyed when his routine is disrupted and that he doesn’t understand why his appointment has been cancelled.

“He gets very, very flustered. I am very fortunate because there isn’t one violent bone in his body, but he gets very upset. It takes him a while then to calm down. It’s not that he’d be banging walls or doors or anything like that, he just tells me then that his head is going hopping and his heart is flying,” she said.

John was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a teenager, and Jo revealed how some of her younger customers took a six-week course in Douglas School for the Deaf to aid her.

“I’m very, very fortunate, I live in a small, kind community and every single person without a shadow of doubt makes a huge effort to communicate with John and as a matter of fact a, a couple of years back a few people from where I live went and learned sign language.

“It is absolutely marvellous, everyone has been looking out for him.

“I just want an interpreter to be present for his appointments so she can interpret what John needs and wants. It’s as simple and as complicated as that,” Jo said, adding that she believes the deaf are neglected in Ireland.

“You don’t ever hear the deaf complaining because they are unable to do so,” she said.


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