On Friday evening last, 9th September at around 5 p.m. word filtered around the units that there were “three wise women” from the HSE in the Board Room - mission - bed closure - yes, bed closure. It was beds they needed, but unfortunately in every bed lay a “golden year customer” as the bank calls us - that’s if you are one of those fortunate to hold a bank account. Yes, a respite patient as they are referred to. Twenty two beds - “yes 22” - 22 Respite Beds.
Up to two weeks ago, I had not given much thought to Respite care but having shared a room, 9A on the Rehab Unit with a lovely 88 year young respite resident, I am now well educated on the benefits of this glorious two week break and what this rest means to those being cared for at home, especially to those who care for them. We often take home carers for granted; they work 24/7 so as to keep their loved ones at home. Their tools are love, patience and understanding. They provide a service, sometimes silently, for which it would be impossible to measure its value and without this great care, many would be in long term care, so instead of rewarding them with a two week break, so as they could “recharge”, what do those who promised so much do, pull the plug - and why - because as they tell us day in, day out, they no longer can afford this service.
I have seen work done by the staff in all departments. Each department and staff member are dedicated to provide the best care possible so that each resident can live their lives in a most active and happy way. They provide for all our needs in a sensitive and caring manner.
My room mate Margaret returns home on Wednesday. She lives on her own with a carer calling each day for “30 minutes”. She spoke of her loneliness and fears. She comes into the Day Hospital every Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and to St. Mary’s twice a week. This is the first time she has been in Respite and she has just said, “it’s a marvellous two weeks, everything done for her and handed to her, the lovely food all handed to her, I feel so happy here”. Over the last two weeks I have “travelled miles” with Margaret as we reminisced over all the places she worked in, here in Mid Tipperary. I have listened to her “praying” for Brian Cody following his demolition of all our dreams on September 4th. Hopefully Brian will not receive any of the “graces” she prayed will be bestowed on him!
I have lost faith in the Government who promised so much to the elderly. Cutting respite beds is a sick joke. You are hitting the most vulnerable. Our health system is a mess. Let’s look at the Primary Care Service we were promised, it’s practically non existent and now you are taking out the most needed respite beds before it’s set up. What sort of system is this? it’s a sick system and it’s a sick decision to hit out at the most vulnerable, the elderly, especially those who need help. The people who care for elderly parents are many. Emigration has once again robbed families of loved ones, children who had to leave to find employment. It’s no longer possible for those working to give up work and care for loved ones especially those with Alzheimer’s disease. Does anyone in the HSE understand the strain of caring for a loved one 24/7?
It’s time to shout “STOP”, it’S time to find the funds required to keep all respite beds open in all areas. It’s time to remove the embargo on the recruitment of staff to replace retiring workers in the caring sector. If we do not do so then we can no longer say we are a caring people with a harmonized approach to the care which puts the patient first.
When Jesus was born, the Three Wise Men brought news of joy. On September 9th the Three Wise Women brought news which is causing great distress to many (I wonder why God did not allow women make decisions), I think I know now!!!
Fortunately for me, I return home midweek having achieved almost a 100% flexion with my new “Knee” replacement - thanks to the wonderful work of the two ladies who “must be obeyed”, Catherine and Emma and their assistants in the Physiotherapy Department. I cannot speak highly enough of the care I received from all the staff and the great “sense of family” that exists at the Community Hospital of the Assumption. I even got to meet “Sam” (the dog), the “Bichon Frise” who is resident in Unit C, let’s hope his bed is not closed.
A grateful resident,
(Name with Editor).