My mum has Alzheimer's. The HSE doesn't want to know. Now we may be forced to abandon her
Geraldine Gittens reports on a case which exposes the shocking state of our health system as a family struggle to cope with a doting mum in need of specialist care
THE FAMILY of an elderly Dublin woman who suffers from dementia and requires 24-hour care have been told she must leave a care home because of HSE cutbacks.
Teresa Bennett (72) from Tallaght has been living with Alzheimer's disease for the past two years and requires constant supervision, help with dressing, cooking, and washing.
She is currently being cared for in Crooksling Geriatric Hospital in Brittas through the HSE, but her family have been told that there is now no bed for her because of cutbacks.
Now her daughter Sinead fears she will have to abandon her seriously ill mum -- in a desperate measure to get her proper care from the HSE.
Sinead (39) cannot give her the round-the-clock care she needs. She says the HSE is forcing her mum out of a residential care facility from next Monday.
Sinead said: "My social worker told me that there's nowhere for mam at the moment. I've rang some hospitals but there are no beds. Now, instead of bringing her home I have to let her go to A&E in Tallaght and I have to tell the hospital that I've no one in the house [to help her]."
She added: "I don't know if that's going to deal with the situation because Mam rambles [around].
"It's killing me and it's killing my dad. I'm very worried about him, I think the depression has hit him. He's worried about Mam."
Sinead has only three days to organise a residential care facility for her mother, but she claims she's powerless because the HSE won't provide her with a bed.
She said yesterday: "It's Thursday today, and Mam is coming home on Monday. I'm just supposed to let her go on Monday. She doesn't know what's going on.
"Mam is very confused and very agitated, she hasn't got violent yet but they reckon it's another stage. It's a rapid illness. She's had her arm and head out the window trying to get out, and when my father was in the house alone with her, she came down every half an hour to wake him, and he needs his rest."
Sinead's father is suffering from chronic arthritis and he is now very ill with Coronary Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and he cannot possibly care for his wife either.
Sinead added: "My sister is in Australia and she had a mastectomy last Thursday and she's to have a full scan to see if the cancer has gone to her bone. That adds to the woes, none of us can get over to see her.
"Mam requires 24-hour care. You have to think of Dad being there. He's not able for her. He had the porch door locked constantly because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to go out after her if she went outside."
Teresa needs help dressing herself, because she has gone out in public wearing her pyjamas, and she doesn't know how to wash herself.
Sinead said: "I just feel that my Mam and Dad never asked for anything in their life, and now I'm being told to throw her into a bed in A&E.
"I would just have to disregard Mam and let her go to Tallaght. I wouldn't like to do it but I'll have to if I want her to be cared for. I'm married with two small children. I just can't."
Meanwhile, a HSE spokesperson said: "For any patient leaving the hospital, a care package would be discussed with any patient and their families before leaving the hospital."