Teen and her mother to spend Christmas in hospital waiting for HSE funding
The mother of a teenage girl with acute behavioural difficulties who has been left waiting in Wexford General Hospital for nearly 150 days for funding to be made available for appropriate residential care is facing spending Christmas at the hospital, away from her other children.
The mother, known as Nicola to protect her daughter's anonymity, has basically been living at Wexford General alongside her daughter for the past 148 days, only getting home to see her other three children, who are staying with her parents, for a few hours each weekend. While the young woman had been offered a bed in an appropriate care facility, Nua Healthcare in Kildare, Nicola was informed earlier this year that no funding was available to facilitate this and she should expect to spend up to 300 days waiting in hospital.
While Nicola had spoken to this newspaper in relation to her plight previously, the situation has not improved since and she is now facing into spending Christmas at the hospital with her daughter.
'The situation for Christmas is that we'll face-time (video call) with my other children while they're opening their presents,' Nicola explained.
'That way we can feel as if we're in some way all together as a family. It's a difficult situation, particularly for my other kids. They've seen a lot. They're angry and they're afraid and they're in limbo. They don't know how long things are going to be this way. I'm here at the hospital morning, noon and night and they don't get to see their mum.'
Nicola's daughter needs full time care and she stays with her at all times, except for a few hours at the weekends when she gets to see her other children. When things were at their worst, Nicola lived in constant fear that her daughter would seriously harm herself or others and she is at her wits end as she tries to get her daughter the treatment she desperately needs.
Frustratingly, Nicola says that her daughter has made some progress in recent weeks having engaged with a behavioural therapist in the hospital, however, there is only so much they can do in the current setting, away from an appropriate care centre.
'She has shown some improvement,' Nicola said. 'She sees the behavioural therapist once a week and has made some progress, but we've been told that there's only so much they can do in this setting.'
'It's really frustrating, because if she could get the appropriate care that she needs, she might even be able to get back to school within a few months. It would give my daughter her life back.'
Since the last time we spoke, Nicola says that the Director General of the HSE is looking into the matter, however, ultimately the decision to make funding available lies with Minister for Health Simon Harris. With this being a busy season at the hospital, every angle has been tried to remove the teenage girl from the hospital bed - except, that is, for stumping up the cash to pay for appropriate residential care. Nicola says that they were offered a home care package which would cost somewhere in the region of €35,000 in a bid to free up the hospital bed, but it's something that's of little or no benefit to their situation at all.
'If we go home at this stage, then we'll fall down the list of priorities and it could be 2020 by the time my daughter gets the care she needs,' she said.
'At that stage, she'll nearly be looking to adult services. Also, it's not fair for them to offer this to us, when somebody else could really benefit from getting it. Giving my daughter a carer and sending her home will be of no use to her. She won't receive the type of help she needs or make any progress.'
The family's case had already been championed by Labour leader Brendan Howlin previously, and following the publication of the previous article on Nicola's situation, she says that Minister Paul Kehoe has been in touch and has vowed to talk with his colleague Simon Harris on the matter, as well as the Director General of the HSE.
'We've been told the bed at Nua Healthcare is still available,' Nicola said. 'But that's likely to change on the second week of January when the allocations are made. At this stage, we're still in limbo and really we're just left hoping for a Christmas miracle. With Christmas coming up, most of the people involved won't be back to work until mid January though, so it looks like we'll be here for the foreseeable.'
Nicola previously outlined that it's costing somewhere in the region of €40,000 to €45,000 per month to keep her daughter at Wexford General. For an extra €8,000, she could be receiving appropriate care in an appropriate setting, with the real possibility of emerging within a few months.