A Dublin mother said she feels very lucky to be able to donate her house to St John of God community services to allow her adult son with an intellectual disability to continue to live and be cared for in his family home.
Teresa O’Hare, from Glenageary, yesterday formally handed over the four-bedroom detached home so that her only child, 41-year-old Ryan, can remain there, giving him quality of life and a sense of security.
“There are a lot of ageing parents looking after disabled children and it is a very difficult situation to be in,” she said.
Mrs O’Hare said she is fortunate to be able to move to small house nearby but others may not be in her position. Ryan is able to walk the short journey to visit his mother.
Her old family home will be run by St John of God staff, who will provide round the clock care, and it will also be home to three other residents.
She told how the generous gesture was a joint decision between herself and her late husband Tom, who died three years ago. He was a site manager and they settled here in the 1970s after returning from Alberta, Canada.
Ryan took centre stage yesterday when he cut the ribbon and declared that “this house is open”.
Mrs O’Hare, a former nurse, spoke of Ryan’s happy disposition but like many parents of an adult child with an intellectual disability she and her late husband wanted to ensure his future care.
“Ryan is our only child. He grew up in this house and this is, in many ways, about his birthright. Because he has been cared for by St John of God Community Services throughout his life and continuing into the future, it seemed to be the right thing to offer our home to the service so that he can continue to live here for the rest of his life.
There are another approximately 3,000 people with a disability in Ireland, currently living with parents over the age of 70
“By securing Ryan’s future in this way, I am glad that it will also be home to three individuals supported by St John of God Community Services. My late husband and I always believed very strongly in the rights of people with disabilities and the right to one’s own home is surely at the heart of that.”
Ryan goes to day services and has also been in respite, which he has adapted to well.
The house, which the couple bought in 1979, has now been refurbished and adapted to meet the needs of the residents who will get 24-hour care.
Michelle Thunder, chief executive of the St John of God Housing Association, thanked Mrs O’Hare for her kindness in giving “this exceptional donation to St John of God Services.”
She added: ”Unfortunately, there are another approximately 3,000 people with a disability in Ireland, currently living with parents over the age of 70 and the national waiting list for housing is growing rather than reducing.
“While good progress is being made in providing housing for people leaving campus-based institutional living, this is the first house in 12 years that has been added to St John of God housing stock, specifically for the people who find themselves living at home with ageing parents. More needs to be done to address this growing problem.”
There have been harrowing cases of older patients suffering a serious medical condition and an adult child with an intellectual disability suddenly finding themselves in need of a residential place.
The son or daughter might find themselves in a residential centre far from home and in distress as the life they have known could be gone forever.
Minister for Disabilities Anne Rabbitte, who was present for the formal handover, acknowledged “the hard work, the generosity, and the love that has made this opening possible. I want to extend my gratitude to Teresa O’Hare for her generous donation, the commitment of Saint John of God Housing Association, Saint John of God Community Services, the Department of Housing and the HSE to ensure the completion of this house. Collaborative efforts can make a difference. Today, you have all made a difference to the lives of four people and their families.”
Saint John of God Community Services operates HSE-funded services to children and adults with intellectual disability, and to children, adolescents and adults with mental ill health. As part of Saint John of God Hospitaller Services Group, it supports approximately 8,000 children and adults annually with over 3,000 staff and volunteers.
The building works on the house were funded by Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown local authority and the HSE gave the financial support to provide the staff who will be present at all times to care for and support the residents. It has created a new happy family and vital support for Ryan and the other residents who will be able to live as normal a life as possible while still getting the essential care and safeguards that they need.
Mrs O’Hare is also not far from her son and the dream she and her late husband Tom had for Ryan is now becoming a reality. However, for many other families the future and the worry about their adult children remains as services come up short.