The sister of a 28-year-old Longford man has penned an open letter to the HSE Disability Services in an attempt to acquire a bed within the county for her severely disabled brother.
Nikita Halvey's brother, Stevie has been cared for by his mother for 28 years. Unfortunately, for various health reasons, Stevie's mother has reached a stage where she will no longer be able to look after him.
As a result, Stevie has been living in St. Christopher's Adult Respite Service in Newtownforbes, paid for by the HSE. However, at a cost of €2,000 per week, it is not a feasible permanent living arrangement for the much-loved Longford man.
In an open letter to the HSE, posted on Nikita's Facebook page, she says: "My brother Stevie is a handsome young man of 28, brown hair, blue eyes and lovely teeth. I'm not looking for a date for him! I'm looking for a safe and constant place for him to live; you see he just happens to be profoundly disabled, both intellectually and physically."
In the letter, she says that, while she understands the difficulty with funding across the country, this is an emergency and she and her youngest brother, Kevin, are hoping the HSE can provide a solution.
As the young man's mother can no longer be his carer, as much as she would like to, the HSE has suggested moving Stevie to a facility in Mullingar - more than 40 kilometres away from his current life.
"The staff of the HSE who have rallied to solve Stevie's situation have been excellent, I can't fault their efforts at all, they are working with such scarce resources and they really are doing their best. But this placement in Mullingar is not the place for him," Nikita continued in her open letter.
"No matter where he is to be accommodated he will lose the only home he has ever known, but accepting this particular placement means that he would also lose the day service he has attended for 26 years, the staff who know and love him and most importantly, his community, his tribe, the people who understand him and who he loves dearly."
To move him so far away, Nikita told the Longford Leader, would take him away from everything he knows and everything that is important in his life: "There's no concern for his community, his ties, his life, anything. It feels like there's no care for his dignity."
And the deadline for Stevie to move out of his current living situation is looming, with the HSE looking to move him to Mullingar this coming Tuesday.
"Come Tuesday, there's nowhere for him to go because we're refusing to consent to him being moved to Mullingar," Nikita told the Leader.
In her open letter to the HSE, she adds that Stevie "is a person, he matters, he didn't ask to be disabled and he doesn't have a voice to ask for what he needs so Kevin Halvey and I, his siblings must do this for him".
"A person applying for a council home has a reasonable level of choice as to where they live, why is it ok to deprive a very vulnerable person like Stevie of the same choice?" she continued.
"We need to be allocated a bed in a residential facility in Longford where he can be Stevie, where the staff and residents are constant, where he can listen to Declan Nerney and eat chicken curry to his heart's content but most importantly where he can continue to access his day service and live what little bit of life that he is able to with his pals and people who know him."
Nikita finished her letter by asking friends and Facebook-users to share her open letter to raise awareness for the situation: " I know we are not the only family in it," she concluded.