A young woman who was hospitalised due to Covid-19 and now has to stay at a nursing home due to a shortage of support care packages, says she just wants to go home to her own house.
Kifca McNamee has been away from her house in Kildalkey, Co. Meath for the last nine weeks because she says the HSE can't find anyone to help her out for a few hours in her own home.
In a letter to Kifca, Meath Disability Services admit that shortage of carers is a national issue.
The letter reads: "Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to commission a provider for your home support package however recruitment and retention of carers is a huge national issue at present."
Kifca is a wheelchair user due to Friedreich Ataxia which is a rare, inherited disease that causes progressive nervous system damage and movement problems. It usually begins in childhood and leads to impaired muscle co-ordination that worsens over time.
The 40-year-old has also had a defibrillator inserted after suffering a heart attack last year and has a hearing impairment.
"Unfortunately I got Covid-19 and was brought into Our Lady's Hospital in Navan. Thankfully, I recovered in five days, but they couldn't send me home as I was told there were no carers to help me," she said.
"I was kept in hospital for five weeks and then transferred to Care Choice in Trim where I have been for almost four weeks. The staff here are lovely, but I just want to go home. I'm too young to be in such a facility, especially when I'm able to live mostly independently.
"I have been approved for a home care package but am told there is a shortage of carers."
The HSE says it "is working on an ongoing basis to provide home care packages within resources available. The HSE does not comment on individual cases."
Meanwhile, Aontu leader Peadar Toibin described the situation as "shocking and completely unacceptable".
"A nursing home setting is completely inappropriate accommodation for a young person. These so-called temporary stays in nursing homes can often become permanent without the citizen's consent.
"Nursing homes, or their activities, are not designed for younger people with disabilities. Nursing Homes have become more isolated and protected during the Covid Crisis to safeguard those in their elder years. This is not where a younger person should be".
"What's needed is the necessary staff to be employed to deliver this critical home care service. It's clear that that's not happening. Kifca has been approved for a home care package, but the government is not employing sufficient staff to meet demand. This is so frustrating, and it has to change".