‘Nothing has changed’ - Woman unable to visit sick father due to lack of respite care for son

'If I fall down the stairs,, there is nobody to call for my son'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.46 23 Jan 2024

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‘Nothing has changed’ - Woman...

‘Nothing has changed’ - Woman unable to visit sick father due to lack of respite care for son

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.46 23 Jan 2024

Share this article

The HSE is to contact with a woman who said she has 'nobody to call' for her son, Luca.

Gayle Murphy cares for her 22-year-old son full-time in their home.

Luca suffers from a severe form of autism and cannot be left alone as he self-harms and requires "serious behavioural intervention".


Last year Ms Murphy said she had to watch her mother's funeral online because she could not get a carer from the HSE.

This afternoon, Ms Murphy told Lunchtime Live her situation has not changed since.

"It's getting worse, I have to say nothing has changed unfortunately," she said.

"I spoke to you after Mum died in August, and I'd already been the guts of the year here at home with Luke since February".

Ms Murphy said she has been "basically incarcerated" in her home.

"Absolutely nothing has changed, and my father is going downhill," she said.

"He'll be 91 on Thursday, I'd love to be able to visit him and I won't be able to.

"That's awful because he'll be expecting me, because he still knows who I am.

"I'm the only one in the family that he recognises, I'm his only daughter."

Luca. Luca. Image: Supplied

Ms Murphy said her health has 'suffered' because she simply can't leave her son.

"I can't go for my BreastCheck because I can't show up, I have to tell them there's nobody to mind my son."

Ms Murphy said she gets some respite every two weeks on Friday nights.

"I get respite at 3pm every 14 days till 6pm on a Sunday," she said.

"There is nothing open that I need to attend to at that time.

"Talk about packing your life every 14 days on a Saturday, it's not possible".

'He needs someone all the time'

Ms Murphy said Luca is also regressing despite behaviour therapy.

"He's not getting progress, there's no goals and targets being reached," she said.

"He's gone back and back, and of course the fallout is when he comes home, then it's really bad for me.

"He's upset, he's agitated and his needs have not been met, that he's maybe been waiting for two weeks, that I couldn't do on my own with him.

"He needs someone with him all of the time to supervise his showers.

"He can do it, he's very clean and he can lay his clothes but he needs someone with him all of the time to do everything.

"He wouldn't know [about] the hot in the shower, he'd be scalded.

"You have to be there to prompt him".

'There's nobody'

Ms Murphy said there is no one to reach out to for help.

"Nobody checks on us, nobody calls, there's nobody to reach out to," she said.

"There's no disability manager, there's nobody and there's nothing.

"His funding package has disappeared since we moved from CH09 - we were told it will follow us.

"It's disappeared into thin air and nobody's accountable.

"If I fall down the stairs and I'm at the end of the stairs, there is nobody to call for my son".

Gayle Murphy and Luca Gayle Murphy and Luca. Image: Supplied

Last September Junior Minister for Disability Anne Rabbitte said Ms Murphy "should have been supported, there's no denying that whatsoever."

"The lack of empathy, the lack of heart in the whole situation saddens me a lot, to be quite honest with you," Minister Rabbitte said.

"That doesn't change the situation for what Gayle has experienced, but it's wrong not to acknowledge the lack of care."

Ms Murphy said she believed Minister Rabbitte was being genuine.

"Quite the opposite has happened for me, I couldn't even ask for an hour," she said.

"I couldn't ring up my service provider and say, 'I have to go to the hospital' - they wouldn't even answer the phone to me.

"There's nobody to reach out to get help.

"She spoke really genuinely, and I believe her, but I believe she has a difficulty herself.

"The HSE are just not answerable to anybody," she added.

HSE response

In a statement to Newstalk, the HSE said they will be in contact with Ms Murphy.

"HSE Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow are not in a position to comment on individual cases, but can confirm that the Disability Services team will make direct contact with the service user concerned to address their concerns," it said.

"DSKWW Disability Services can confirm that day services funding is transferable between CHO areas, and that Disability Services work with service users and their families following a move between areas to provide appropriate supports for them in their new CHO under New Directions policy."

The HSE said there is a Young Adult Team in place to provide support to young people who are attending or wish to access day services or other supports.

It added that while respite and emergency respite is available "a full assessment is required" to ensure the appropriate staff and supports are available, and it can be difficult to arrange at short notice.

Listen back here:

Main image: Gayle and Luca. Image: Supplied

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