herald

Tuesday 19 November 2019

'Sometimes I burst out crying' - MS sufferer dreams of care at home

Dubliner Kevin Barron suffers from MS and osteoporosis
Dubliner Kevin Barron suffers from MS and osteoporosis

A man who has been living in a Dublin care home for nearly 15 years is begging the HSE to grant him full-time home care as he "can't emphasise enough how miserable and depressed" he is.

Kevin Barron was 46 when he first had to be looked after in a home. At the time, his mother could no longer care for him due to his developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The 60-year-old has since also developed osteoporosis - from spending long periods in a wheelchair - and his physical state has further deteriorated because of the degenerative disease.

Nightmare

Mr Barron's parents looked after him at his family home with the help of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) and the health Board, but as they were starting to feel their age they had to have him cared for in a home.

Despite this, Mr Barron has always felt it was only a temporary solution and that eventually he would be cared for in his own home.

He said he has grown to detest living in a nursing home and "keeps wondering if this nightmare will ever end".

"I can't emphasise enough how miserable and depressed I am," he said.

"I've looked forward to moving home since the day I got there. I'm always close to tears and sometimes I burst out crying.

"I had pinned all my hopes on getting back home because I was promised the family home when my parents retired.

"I really hate being here. I'm miserable. I was waiting for the day that I could get out of here and move into the house."

Mr Barron, a qualified solicitor, was extremely active in his youth, coming second in the 100-metre breaststroke at the Junior Nationals in 1974. He also played water polo for Leinster at under-16 and under-19.

Although his mind remains active, he said: "There's no stimulation for me. In school I was super intelligent, the best in the class by far. The lads revered me, but I got on well, I wasn't perceived as a swot.

"I'd like to get home. I'm so, so unhappy. There's no stimulation for me. They don't grab me and get me interested. I stay in bed as long as I can and get to bed as early as I can.

"I spend my time watching TV from bed and that's no life.

"I can't explain how bored and miserable and depressed I am all the time. Nobody talks to me."

Mr Barron recalled fondly a time before he was confined to his wheelchair.

Having qualified as a solicitor in July 1984, he was diagnosed with MS that September.

The Clonskeagh man had to close his practice, which he opened soon after graduating, but despite his diagnosis he was living life to the full after taking a job in Donegal.

"I started working in my own practice and organised professional indemnity insurance so I took a job in Falcarragh at the very top of Donegal, working for someone else, on October 1, 1986," he said.

Magic

"I was very self-conscious until I was about 22 and then things started to change for me. I discovered self-confidence. It was pure magic."

After a while, however, his MS began to take its toll. Now, as Mr Barron prepares to receive a significant sum from the sale of his family house, he has asked that it be used to get him out of the care home.

The HSE refused to comment on Mr Barron's case in particular, but admitted "waiting times are too long".

"People being discharged from acute hospitals, who can return home with supports, are prioritised," the HSE said.

"Despite this significant level of service, the demand for home support continues to grow."

In a bid to finally leave his care home, Mr Barron has set up a GoFundMe page.

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