Sunday 20 August 2017

Brendan's tribute as 'hero' dad who featured in TV appeal dies

Brendan Courtney highlighted his family’s plight on RTÉ
Brendan Courtney highlighted his family’s plight on RTÉ
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Broadcaster and fashion designer Brendan Courtney has paid tribute to his late father Frank who "helped start a conversation" about end of life care for loved ones.

Father-of-four Frank Courtney (75), who was married to Nuala, passed away at Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross this morning.

Frank came to public prominence in January after the broadcast of documentary 'We Need To Talk About Dad' on RTE. It was narrated by his son Brendan and featured their family struggling to access the 'Fair Deal' scheme as they cared for Frank, who sufferd a stroke and was left paralysed.

"It wasn't a shock but it was a surprise - he was palliative care for the last year," Brendan told the Irish Independent.

Brendan Courtney has described his mother Nuala as his best friend and the two are famously tight knit. She is a trained psychotherapist who specialises in grief counselling.
Brendan Courtney has described his mother Nuala as his best friend and the two are famously tight knit. She is a trained psychotherapist who specialises in grief counselling.

"He was very stable - my sister and I were with him on Tuesday and we were having a laugh and he was in good form.

"His carer Ray - a very good friend - went his room yesterday morning to give him his cup of tea. Dad said he was a bit cold, so Ray got him a blanket and then turned away. When he turned back, he was gone."

"He slipped away quietly. It wasn't a shock but it was a surprise."

Brendan said his father's story "started a conversation" in this country about caring for elderly relatives, and whether the 'Fair Deal' scheme could be used if family members wished to care for their loved ones in their home.

"That documentary, it marked a beautiful time and we were really proud of it and Dad. Of course my dad was suspicious, wanting to know how if he came across strange. But I told him 'no Dad - you're a hero'."

It highlighted the lack of financial support for families who do not want a loved one to be a resident in a nursing home under the State-funded Fair Deal scheme.

The documentary prompted a huge public response. In March, Minister for Older People Helen McEntee said  the first public consultation to gather views on a proposed statutory home care scheme and was due to be launched last month.

While Brendan is not yet keen to say the documentary has made a lasting difference, he does stress that he will keep trying to highlight issue going forward.

"We started a conversation. So many people got in touch with us afterwards and told us their stories. It was a conversation that needed to take place."

Frank Courtney's funeral mass will take place on Friday morning at 10 o'clock at St Kilian's Church in Kingswood.

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