Families told they have to fund respite care

SIXTY families with relatives who have intellectual disabilities and who avail of respite services in Limerick will now have to fund a reduced service, it has emerged.

A respite house at Clonile, Old Cratloe Road, which is run by the Brothers of Charity was closed on June 14, due to Government cutbacks.

More than 60 families who care for relatives with intellectual disability, availed of the respite house, if they needed time away or had to go into hospital.

Campaigner Owen South, publicly challenged the Taoiseach when he visited Limerick recently on the closure of the respite house.

Mr South said yesterday how the Taoiseach told him the situation would be resolved.

“He said he would get back to me. But I haven’t heard a word since,” he said.

A replacement respite house will be opened on August 16, but families have been told they will have to fund it. The respite house closed down last June cost in the region of €150,000 a year to run.

Mr South said the Brothers of Charity will put €50,000 towards the cost but the families will have to fundraise and raise the other €100,000 a year themselves.

He said as well as having to raise most of the funding of the replacement respite house, it will not be available at weekends and the nightly charge has been raised from €16 to €20.

Mr South said what was happening was tantamount to asking families with children with intellectual disability to go cap in hand onto the streets begging for money.

“The families are devastated and Brian Cowen has not honoured the commitment he gave me when I tackled him on the issue when he was in Limerick a few weeks ago.”

Sarah Hurley, who lives at Roxboro Road, Limerick and cares for her 43-year-old Down Syndrome son, John, said she has looked after him all his life and brings him to the Brothers of Charity in Bawnmore every day.

“I could have put him into care from the age of 16 and cost the state millions. But I love him and care for him at home and don’t even get a carers allowance,” she said.

Maura Fitzpatrick from Doolin, Co Clare whose nephew spent three nights a month at the former respite house said: “The respite house will only be open from Monday to Friday and the nightly rate has been increased and they now want the families to raise the running costs.

“I am not going to go out fundraising,” she said.


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