Tuesday 20 November 2018

'I might have to cancel my first holiday in two years because I can't find respite for my husband'

Carer: 'We haven't any kind of life, it's a vicious circle'

Struggle: Kevin and Marie Murtagh have not had any respite for two years since he was disabled by a car accident. Picture: Seamus Farrelly
Struggle: Kevin and Marie Murtagh have not had any respite for two years since he was disabled by a car accident. Picture: Seamus Farrelly

Louise Walsh

An exhausted full-time carer may have to cancel her first holiday in two years because there is no respite centre in the State available to take her husband.

Marie Murtagh (69) from Navan, Co Meath, has been looking after her husband Kevin since he suffered head and other injuries in a car accident two years ago.

Ironically, he had bought the car to celebrate winning a battle against throat cancer when the crash occurred, resulting in him undergoing a tracheostomy.

She had been looking forward to her first holiday and break since the accident with a trip to Lanzarote, which her daughters had bought as a present.

The only respite care available to take Mr Murtagh (70) was in Co Down, and Mrs Murtagh says she was told she could wait up to two years for a place anywhere in the 26 counties.

That statistic mirrors waiting times in Meath alone, where 70 adults with a disability are currently facing a massive delay of between three and four years for a respite place.

Meanwhile, 30 children in the county on a waiting list face up to a year before they can access a place, according to figures obtained by local Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín.

Ms Murtagh said: "I was so looking forward to a break, to being me again for a short time. I'm devastated.

"We're trying to sort out some family care for him but it'll be tough for them all."

She added: "Neither of us have any kind of life any more. It's like a vicious circle that we can't get out of."

Mr Tóibín said: "It's cruel that the waiting times for adult respite services in Meath alone is up to four years.

"We are talking about carers who do sterling work out of love and sacrifice for their family.

"Looking after someone 24/7 can have a fierce toll on their own physical and mental health."

The HSE had not responded to a query by time of going to press but in a parliamentary question to Mr Tóibín, the Community Health Organisation said: "The HSE recognises the need for additional respite provision across the Midlands/Louth/Meath Community Health Organisation and in that regard is actively working to increase provision of same."

Irish Independent

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