A parent of a child with a physical and intellectual disability who fears budgetary cuts planned for the Brothers of Charity services will hit lifelines for many families has slammed the Government for targeting the “most dependent” in society.
Carol Temke, who is the sole carer of her 16-year-old daughter, Josephine, who has the mental age of a four-year-old, says its planned action is “shocking, shameful and morally wrong”.
The budget of the service provider, the Brothers of Charity, is being slashed by €2.5 million, according to concerned parents. There are proposals to close two community homes in Galway and cut respite services by 45 per cent as part of the restructuring of services. Some 600 adults and 500 children avail of these services in the city and county.
Angry parents are planning to take to the streets to protest about the proposed cuts which they warn will have “devastating” effects on already vulnerable service users and their families.
Ms Temke, who lives in Woodquay, is accusing the Government of using the love of fulltime carers like herself against them.
“Shame on you Government. Shame on you HSE. In times of economic recession basic book keeping should be in place. This is a time when vital services should be safeguarded and protected. It seems to be if the project/department budget is not of national importance cut here first.
“You [the Government] bank on the fact we are a group of caring people who stay silent. You are aware of our roles in life. You know we will keep going on no matter what the strain. You will use our love for our dependents against us. Enough is what we say now. Stop using us. Stop your abuse of our children/adults. When you cut our allowances, services, budgets that is abuse.”
She says cuts in the “limited” services already available to parents, such as herself, which enable them to cope would be “devastating”.
Her daughter who suffers from a rare chromosome disorder called 18q Deletion, has epilepsy, asthma and bipolar disorder and requires 24 hour care seven days a week. She attends Rosedale school run by the Brothers of Charity in Renmore from 9am to 3pm daily during term and receives six nights respite care a month. Any reduction in this would put additional pressure on her already exhausted mother.
Ms Temke, who grew up in England but moved here to her late father’s birthplace four years ago, says she is living in fear of further service cuts. Josephine has challenging behaviour sometimes and her mother has sustained several injuries, including a broken nose on two occasions and whiplash.
“When she is calm she is lovely and outgoing, she is like a toddler only she is bigger than you. If she is in good form then we have a good day. But lately we seem to have more bad days than good. Her behaviour can be challenging, I’ve been hit, I’ve had my nose broken twice, I’ve had head injuries, bruises, cuts. All you can do is remove items and work around her to slow down the momentum. There is no back-up service, there is no-one to take her while I recover. It is a very hard situation all round. All I’m asking for is a bit of support, continued funding to help me and people like me carry on the best we can in a very difficult situation. I’m afraid there will be more cuts next year, that there may be no respite. The thought of losing that.... I can’t put into words how devastating that would be. I’m not coping now and it’s not Josephine’s fault. She has a mental disorder on top of a mental disability. I love her so much and I want to make her life more positive. But it’s very hard to do this without a back-up service and with living in fear that current services will be cut.
“I won’t stay silent. These services are my lifeline. Our children are the forgotten ones, second class citizens in the 21st century.”