Thursday 19 January 2017

'Every extra penny that comes our way is great'

Michelle Reilly Carer, Dublin

Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30

Dirk Francis and Michelle Reilly Francis at their home in Balbriggan. Michelle is a full time carer for her husband with huntington's disease. Photo: El Keegan
Dirk Francis and Michelle Reilly Francis at their home in Balbriggan. Michelle is a full time carer for her husband with huntington's disease. Photo: El Keegan

Dublin native Michelle Reilly has been caring for her husband who is living with Huntington's disease for several years.

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He was first diagnosed with the condition six years ago, but she was forced to give up work to care for him two years ago as his condition continued to progress.

The €325 increase to the respite care grant, which will give the family €1,700 annually, will be used towards household expenses. "There are very few carers that use their respite grant for respite, because they simply don't have it.

"It goes on the things that you can't possibly afford to pay the rest of the time," the Balbriggan resident said.

"We will use it towards things like 'back to school' expenses for my son and for family life.

"Every extra penny that comes our way is great," she added.

Michelle and her husband Dirk have two children, Jessica (18) and Callan (8). Michelle used to work in finance before quitting to become her husband's full-time carer.

Her husband gets a carer for three one-hour slots per week. And, she is in receipt of the carers' allowance while her husband is on the invalidity pension.

Ms Reilly said she applied for respite for her husband in January, but said the last time he had overnight care was in November of last year.

"We would never have relied on the State for anything. And then we went from being a dual-income family to a single-income family," Michelle said.

"I would have liked to have seen an increase to the actual weekly benefit for carers.

"It is similar to other weekly benefits but I don't think it takes into account the extra costs."

However, the family will also benefit from the €5 increase in the children's allowance and the extension of the GP care scheme for children under 12.

"Children's allowance affects us as well.

"So it is an extra fiver a month so that was nice to see," she added.

"All in all, it's not terrible. Every little helps, you are obviously going to always hope for more. But at least it is not one of the budgets that we have seen in previous years where we were getting stuff taken off of us left right and centre."

Emma Jane Hade

Irish Independent

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