'A touching story most of us can relate to' - Brendan Courtney's RTE documentary sparks national conversation
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?"
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.
#WeNeedToTalkAboutDad raises the BIG QUESTION - should anyone be making PROFIT from caring? I don't think so.— Barbara Scully (@barbarascully) January 16, 2017
One of the big differences between young and old people is that only one group knows what it's like to be the other. #WeNeedToTalkAboutDad— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) January 16, 2017
Caring for my profoundly disabled son 12 years. Lone parent. Masters degree useless as 24/7 carer My body now failing #WeNeedToTalkAboutDad— Tracy (@blissinthebog) January 17, 2017
We need to support our home carers in the most difficult role imaginable #WeNeedToTalkAboutDad— Day By Day (@DayByDaySupport) January 17, 2017