Volunteers urged to open homes to expand new respite care model

Nicola Moran, 20, centre, with her host carers, mother and daughter Olivia and Molly O'Reilly.

The Cope Foundation has urged volunteers to open their homes to help expand a new model of respite care.

The foundation, which supports people with intellectual disabilities, has launched a recruitment drive to find host carers for its new Home Share project which provides short respite breaks to children and adults with intellectual disabilities and, or autism, from across Cork city and county.

Cope said the benefits of respite in a “home away from home” setting have been recognised for promoting independence and fostering social contacts in a community setting.

“Home Share is exactly the kind of home away from home option that we are very keen to get off the ground,” said Cope’s acting short breaks co-ordinator, Rachel Moriarty. “Short breaks are an essential support for the people we work with, and their families and community.

“It provides the people we support with opportunities to gain new and positive experiences away from their families. It supports carers to have a well-deserved break so that they continue their essential care giving roles.

“It is an important way for caregivers to get time off with the security of knowing that their loved one is receiving care from a dependable, trained source in a community and social setting.”

Host carers will be required to provide short breaks to Cope clients in their own home. Prospective home carers can be working, retired, single, married or with a partner, be parents or have no children, and need not have any experience of working with someone with a disability.

However, carers will be fully vetted, assessed, and trained. The scheme is voluntary but host carers are paid an allowance.

Ayla Farrell, Cope’s Home Share co-ordinator, said that a rigorous assessment and matching process will ensure that host carers and the person in need of respite are well matched to ensure it is a positive experience for all.

Teresa Moran’s daughter, Nicola, 20, who is supported by Cope, has moved from availing of residential respite to the Home Share service in recent months, thanks to host carer Olivia, who lives with her daughter Molly.

Teresa said Home Share is much more homely and flexible and keeps Nicola as independent as possible.

“At first other people had made me a bit nervous about Nicola going to another family, but as soon as I met Olivia and Molly I had no more worries,” said Teresa.

“They are so warm and friendly and Nicola always looks forward to her sleepovers with Olivia. Just knowing that Nicola is happy — that’s the bottom line.”

Olivia said she and her daughter have also benefitted from being involved in Home Share.

“We plan activities more as a family and spend more quality time together,” she said.

“Molly and I look forward to having Nicola come and stay with us. We don’t see Nicola’s disability, we just see her as part of the family.”

You can get more information on the scheme on www.cope-foundation.ie/HomeShare, or by contacting Ms Farrell by email (farrella @cope-foundation.ie) or by phone on 021-4643101.


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