Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, today opened a regional respite and residential service in Co. Clare, which will offer up to 1,200 respite bed night opportunities for adults and children with severe and profound disabilities in the Mid-West region.

Carrowgar, based in Clarecastle, Co Clare, is run by RehabCare, the care division of the Rehab Group. It will offer residential respite for children with complex care needs and disabilities. This service will support people with severe/profound learning difficulties, accompanying physical disabilities, complex medical and healthcare needs, and who may have additional sensory impairments. The HSE Mid-West funds this new service to provide much-needed respite breaks for children and families responding to need across the catchment area from Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary.

Minister Rabbitte was joined by the CEO of Rehab Group, Barry McGinn, Director of Care at Rehab Group, Gráinne Fogarty, Head of Service HSE Midwest, Maurice Hoare, and parent Mary Nolan, who has availed of RehabCare respite services.

Director of Care at Rehab Group, Gráinne Fogarty, said: “Planning for the development of this service commenced in 2018 with Rehab Group in conjunction with the HSE committing to developing a respite service to respond to the extensive waiting lists to access our existing children’s respite services. It became clear that in addition to the requirement to address the waiting lists to access children’s respite there was also a significant gap in the provision of high-support services to those exiting the children’s respite service when they turned 18. It was then decided to utilise Carrowgar to address both by providing respite to adults and children on alternate weeks. When fully operational this facility will provide support to 100 families in the Mid-West region. Delivery of this project would not have been possible without the support of our colleagues in the HSE and staff across the Rehab Group and RehabCare regional team. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of those involved.”

Minister Rabbitte said at the official opening: “I am keenly aware of the critical importance of respite for loved ones and families of those with a disability. It is something I have made a priority as Minister and is something I have continuously invested in. During the Covid crisis, many services were forced to close or reduce capacity, devastating many people. It identified the importance and value of services like respite, which is such a valuable resource for children with disabilities and families. This is a positive and very welcome provision and I am sure that it will be greatly appreciated by families in the community.”

Mary Nolan, whose son Liam has Autism and attends RehabCare services, said: “Liam was diagnosed with Autism at three-years-old. He is on the severe end of the spectrum. He is non-verbal with challenging behavioural issues. He is very clever in his own way, but his view of the world is different. Imagine if you couldn’t speak or had no means of communicating, how frustrated and mad you would get. The reality was Liam needed one-to-one attention, routine, and predictability and in an ordinary family setting that was impossible. RehabCare is a place that understands Autism and the people working in it have experience of children like Liam. It was a safe place for Liam and a place where he was understood. It gave us time to relax, sleep, recharge, spend quality time together, do the simple things, eat a meal together, spend time with other family members and friends.”

“RehabCare set up an Autism Specific Children’s Residential Service in Clare in 2007. Liam was the first child in that service. Everything was carefully considered and planned, we as a family were very included in all of this. The transition was carefully planned. RehabCare took great care of Liam; he presented many challenges for which they had always had fresh ideas. They were successful in establishing a routine, consistency, predictability and an environment that suited Liam. They succeeded in training Liam in areas where we had failed. Liam had two homes. When Liam would go back after a weekend at home, we felt like we like he was going to a family member. It was life-enriching for Liam. It was also life-changing for us. We are very grateful for everything that RehabCare have done and continue to do for our Liam and our family, thanks to the funding provided by the HSE and the Government Department. Respite and Residential Services like Carrowgar are absolutely essential for children and their families.”

Barry McGinn, CEO of Rehab Group, said: “We are genuinely delighted to have finally arrived at this day where we can get the service up and running and continue our work to support people to thrive, achieve and shine. Rehab Group recognises respite’s invaluable contribution to families and those who use our services. As a result, we have committed to developing additional residential and alternative models of respite as part of our five-year Strategy. In addition, the provision of respite care ensures that parents and families receive a break. One cannot underestimate the importance of these breaks for families. I have no doubt that Carrowgar will have a positive impact on hundreds of families who require their services.”


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