Mother - ‘so many families have been forgotten about’

By Maurice Garvey

A MOTHER has been forced to take her autistic son to work with her because respite services are currently closed due to Covid-19.

Lisa Coleman, a Clondalkin resident, is exasperated trying to find out when her son Mason (12), will be able to return to a special school in Dún Laoghaire, which is supported by Beechpark Services, a HSE provider.

Lisa and Mason Coleman compressor

Lisa and Mason Coleman

Despite multiple calls and messages to the HSE, HIQA and Health Minister Simon Harris, she is unable to get confirmation of a reopening date for respite services.

Ms Coleman works in the haulage business, and as she is also Mason’s full time carer, she can’t leave him home alone.

“I’m after ageing 20 years since schools and respite closed. The lack of routine/sleep/being on guard 24/7, it’s hard, but harder for Mason,” said Lisa.

“He misses his pals and he misses Farmleigh (Beechpark). So many families have been forgotten about. I’m one of the lucky few to have gotten respite, but since it’s been taken away, we have no idea if or when it will reopen.”

In a letter to Minister Harris, pleading for help, she stated she has continued to work during this crisis, “bringing my autistic manchild to work with me every day.”

Mason is due to transition to first year at Setanta in Stillorgan, which is supported by Beechpark Services.

Lisa is hopeful he’ll continue to receive respite care until he is 18, but is concerned that Mason is regressing without supports.

“Some of my Autism mammy friends have been lucky to get a few hours break, but no-one seems to know why only some supports have re-opened and others haven’t,” said Lisa.

A spokesperson for the HSE said: “The HSE is currently auditing and evaluating many of its service settings in the context of public health advices to include social distancing rules.

The evaluation is also important in the context of the profile of service users and the necessary measures which must be undertaken prior to any decisions to resume services.

“Farmleigh respite services are currently closed and a service resumption evaluation is underway. Once completed all options will be explored to resume services at the earliest opportunity.

The respite co-ordinator will be in touch with all service users in the coming weeks in this regard.”

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