Tuesday 23 May 2017

'A touching story most of us can relate to' - Brendan Courtney's RTE documentary sparks national conversation

Brendan Courtney: We Need To Talk About Dad. Credit: RTE
Brendan Courtney: We Need To Talk About Dad. Credit: RTE
Brendan Courtney: We Need To Talk About Dad. Credit: RTE
Brendan with his mum Nuala and Dad on his 21st birthday
Happy family: Brendan with his dad Frank on his First Holy Communion
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Brendan Courtney's documentary, We Need To Talk About Dad, showed his family's fight in trying to get care for his father Frank, who was left paralysed by a stroke 18 months ago.

It followed the fashion designer and his family as they struggled with the heartbreaking decision of caring for their father at home, as per their wishes, or placing him in a nursing home.

After visiting a nursing home, Courtney said: ”You don’t want to be mean about it, because people work really hard at it, but it is depressing.”

In the documentary he looked at the HSE's Fair Deal scheme, which provides financial support for people in long-term care. After some research into the complicated system, Brendan discovered that funding does not extend to care in your own home.

The family found it difficult to understand why the State is prepared to fund the cost of a care home but not home care when the costs are comparable.

Without necessary funding The Courtneys had to assess all their financial options, including the prospect of re-mortgaging their house.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent last week, Brendan said: "There is a two-tier system in this country and my father didn't have healthcare. We have to use his house. The one thing that he was so proud of was that he paid off the mortgage. I mean what an achievement in their lifetime? My father feels, 'They have no right to take my house. I have worked my whole life for that'.''

"It comes down to the bigger question of do we want an insurance profit-driven country where our health system is based on bottom line and profit margin, or do we want a country where we know we will be looked after by the healthcare system?"

Brendan with his mum Nuala and Dad on his 21st birthday
Brendan with his mum Nuala and Dad on his 21st birthday
Happy family: Brendan with his dad Frank on his First Holy Communion

The Courtneys are now campaigning to Leinster House to change the rule so that Frank, and others, can stay at home.

He said: "Don't get old and don't be poor in this country because the State will not care."

The documentary had a huge impact on viewers with people sharing their own similar stories online.

Brendan said he wanted the documentary to get people talking and assess how they would cope if their own families were suddenly faced with such a nightmare situation.

The conversation continued on Claire Byrne Live where they shared the results of a poll in which 1000 adults were asked: "Regarding care in old age, would your personal preference be to be cared for in your own home or in a nursing home setting?"

An overwhelming 85 per cent said they would prefer to be cared for in their own home, only six per cent said nursing home and nine per cent said they didn't know.

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