Meeting called on Respite care

LAOIS Down Syndrome has called a meeting of all families who rely on respite care.

LAOIS Down Syndrome has called a meeting of all families who rely on respite care.

The association want people who depend on any of the four respite houses in Laois/Offaly to attend a meeting tomorrow evening (Thursday August 9) at the Laois Down Syndrome Centre in Gort Na nOir in Abbeyleix. The meeting will start at 8pm sharp, and will discuss cuts to respite care in the four centres.

Speaking to the Leinster Express, chairman of Laois Down Syndrome Michael Gorman, said that following a meeting between Brendan Broderick of the Muiriosa Foundation and parents who use Mountrath respite, parents have been left with more concerns.

“Parents are now far more concerned and afraid that the respite service is going to be closed with almost immediate effect as Mountrath respite seems to be now working on a week to week basis. The feeling from that meeting was that we were being informed of decisions that have already been taken.

“Parents felt that Mr Broderick was not there to listen to their input but to give his reasons for the decisions the Muiriosa Foundation have taken which were heavily disputed by the parents present”, he said.

Parents affected had a delegation meet Charlie Flanagan, Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley after their meeting with Mr Broderick, in which they expressed their fears and concerns to the elected members. Sean Fleming then met Mr Broderick along with councillor Alan Hand. According to Deputy Fleming, “a lot more discussion is needed”.

Mr Gorman told the Leinster Express that families have rights

“It is our contention that all families should have equal right to respite services irrespective of what category our family member is put into by the Muiriosa Foundation. We feel there is no understanding by the powers that be of the massive amount of trust that is required for families to hand over their loved one into the care of someone else.

“This trust has to be built up over time as it has been with the staff at Mountrath respite centre. We feel our children are being put at risk for the sake of balancing books. We also feel that, because our family members with additional needs are in the family home, they are the easiest prey to these cuts as they will not affect the day to day operations of the services,” he said.

Mr Broderick was on annual leave but he has already made a detailed statement on Muiriosa’s behalf. The Monasterevin-based foundation has said it has been left with no choice but to change its services because of Government imposed cuts of up to €1.4 million. He said more cuts are expected in each budget up to 2014.

“Our strategy will be to prioritise acess to staffed, center based respite for those service users who require high and intensive levels of support,” he said in a letter to parents.

Those who wish to attend this meeting can contact Michael Gorman at 086 8064135.