LOUTH carers and their relatives are set to benefit from a funding announcement and the introduction of new health service measures.
Louth Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick has welcomed new health service measures that will have a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their carers.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “The provision of respite care in Louth is one of my top priorities as a public representative.
“I was delighted to see Government approval for additional funding to enable all carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance to qualify for a GP Visit Card and an additional €10 million in funding to provide respite care for persons with disabilities.”
He added: “We know there is a severe shortage of respite care in County Louth. Twelve people over 80 years of age are looking after their sons and daughters. They have not been getting the support they need.
“A location has been found in Dundalk that will cater for over 80 families, it will cost €800,000 a year to run.
“We have the facility, the staff, now we just need the funding. This will go some way to fulfilling the needs of carers and their families in Louth.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “I will continue to make representations at the highest level to make sure Louth gets the respite funding it needs.
“Our society owes a debt to these people that can never be paid. The love and dedication shown by these people is truly incredible.
“We all need to be able to take a break; I believe a lot more needs to be done for these people and I will continue to fight for people with disabilities and their carers.”
Louth Sinn TD Gerry Adams has also welcomed the news that Minister Finian McGrath has secured an additional €10 million in funding for respite services.
A portion of this funding is to be allocated to deliver a proposal put to the HSE for dedicated respite services for people with intellectual disabilities in in the Louth and Meath area at Bower House, Balbriggan, Co Fingal.
Speaking following the Minister’s announcement in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Adams said: “My office spoke to Minister McGrath’s office today following the announcement that an additional funding of €8 million has been secured to provide respite services for nine new dedicated houses for respite in each Community Health Area.
"I have been consistently raising this issue with the government. A further commitment was made by Minister McGrath in the Dáil...to provide funding for respite services in a purpose-built unit which will cater for people with intellectual disabilities in Louth and Meath.
“There is a serious lack of scheduled respite services for citizens with disabilities in County Louth. People with disabilities and their families have been living in a state of perpetual crisis.
"I have met with many families who are in dire need and they all have a similar tale of never-ending fights to access services from the State which should be theirs by right.
“I have also raised the case of Sam O'Carroll with the Taoiseach for some time now. Sam is an 18-year-old man with severe autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs.
"He is now 18 and as a result he cannot avail of previous respite services that he once attended. He has been without respite since July. This funding has the potential to change Sam’s life.
“I want to commend the parents, families and community groups who have challenged the government to tackle the crisis in respite services in Louth for some time now.
"I have no doubt that, in the absence of such collective campaigning that families in need of these services would be still stranded in a state of perpetual crisis.
“While I welcome this news, I have asked the Department of Health for the detail of this proposal. It is imperative that these services are accessible as soon as possible to those who need them.”