Athlone native, Lisa Malone, has been honoured with the prestigious ‘Family Carer of the Year’ 2022 accolade.
Lisa cares for her son Conor (23 ) who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS ), a debilitating condition which affects the connective tissues of the body and causes complications including chronic pain, fatigue and hypermobility and dislocation of joints.
She was nominated by multiple family members and friends, including Conor who says that only for his mother’s care, he dreads to think where he would be today and that if anyone is deserving of an award, it’s his mum.
Conor, who was diagnosed with EDS just two years ago, has battled numerous other chronic conditions in recent years.
Alongside caring full-time for Conor, Lisa has fundraised tirelessly to get him the treatment he needs abroad, with her son undergoing spinal surgery in Spain in June of this year. She also cares for Conor’s two younger brothers who have additional needs.
Now in their 15th year, the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of the more than half a million people in Ireland who provide care at home to loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.
The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the State €20bn a year to replace. Family carers often go unnoticed in the community despite the immense workload they take on and the significant commitment they show to those that they care for. This has particularly been the case during the pandemic with many left increasingly isolated.
“Caring for a loved one at home can be rewarding but it can also be challenging, particularly in the absence of vital supports and services including respite. This can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing. Often, a person can find themselves taking on the role of a family carer with little or no warning. These are mums, dads, sons, daughters, siblings, relatives, friends and colleagues who sometimes don’t even see themselves as family carers. They are doing extraordinary work that is too often unseen and undervalued.
“These awards are an important event in our calendar every year as we seek to provide some small recognition to all of those who care at home for loved ones with additional needs and to ensure their stories are heard.
“As a charity, we want family carers to know that they are not alone and that we are here to help them no matter where they find themselves on their caring journey. As a society, we must ensure that family carers are not only recognised for their immense contribution, but truly supported to care safely at home,” Family Carers Ireland Community Support Manager for Longford and Westmeath, Paul Farrell, said.