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Elaine Smith named Wexford Carer of the Year


Darren Wall, Eva Smith and Elaine Smith with baby Lucy

Darren Wall, Eva Smith and Elaine Smith with baby Lucy

Darren Wall, Eva Smith and Elaine Smith with baby Lucy


Elaine Smith from Longridge, Bridgetown has been named Wexford Family Carer of the Year for 2021. Elaine cares for her daughter Lucy (3) who was born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy, is non-verbal, PEG-fed, has scoliosis and requires round-the-clock care. Elaine has dedicated herself to Lucy and her care since the moment she was born yet still finds time to support and nurture her teenage daughter Eva.

Elaine’s sister Alison, who nominated her for the award, said that Elaine and Lucy’s dad Darren have created a loving home for the girls, and she deserves to be recognised for her ultimate dedication to her family. Elaine also previously cared for her father. However, when Alison decided to nominate her sister for the award she neglected to tell the county’s newly-crowned Carer of the Year.

"I only found out when they rang me the week before last,” said Elaine. “Alison entered me in for it and didn’t tell anyone. She said she came home late one night and filled out a form online, she can’t even remember how she did it.”

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Lucy’s story has captured the heart of the local community and earlier this year almost €80,000 was fundraised to help the family modify their home. The modifications have enabled the toddler to enjoy a much greater quality of life, and this is just the latest positive development for the three-year-old.

“She’s doing well at the moment, she started in Ard Aoibheann in September and goes there two days a week,” said Elaine who added that without Darren and Eva there wouldn’t have been any award.

The annual awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s forgotten frontline who go the extra mile every day in caring for loved ones with additional needs. More than 500,000 people in Ireland provide unpaid care in the home for children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental ill-health, or addiction. The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the state €20bn a year to replace.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all of society but especially for family carers and those they care for who saw essential services and supports severely impacted. The blanket withdrawal of supports such as homecare, respite, personal assistance hours and residential care during lockdown forced many to care alone, around the clock. When Ireland shut down, family carers stepped up in support of their loved ones.

Wexford Carer Supports Manager Jason Carroll said, “Now more than ever, family carers deserve to be recognised for their enormous contribution to our society. Their unyielding commitment to care for their loved ones at home, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, has been nothing short of remarkable and this sacrifice often comes at a cost to their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. These awards are about paying tribute to all of Ireland's 500,000 family carers and shining a light on the immense work that they do, day in, day out, often with little or no help from the State. Their essential contribution to our national healthcare system needs to be properly acknowledged and supported.”

Colin Hayes, Netwatch Head of Business, Ireland & UK said, “This is our third year partnering with Family Carers Ireland, and yet again we are blown away by the level of sacrifice, care and commitment shown by each and every carer. It’s an honour to be part of this and hope that our involvement can help in even a small way to highlight this charity and support the needs of its members.”