Minister directs ‘all avenues’ be examined over care of disabled woman

Fiona Kinsella is cared for by elderly parents and has been on waiting list for 13 years

Michael and Theresa Kinsella are still looking after their daughter Fiona because there are no suitable residential care places available. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath has directed that “all avenues are explored” to find a solution for an intellectually disabled woman being cared for by her mother, who suffers from dementia.

Theresa Kinsella (82) and her husband Michael (79) are still looking after their daughter Fiona (52) because there are no suitable residential places available.

Ms Kinsella told The Irish Times this week she would prefer if her daughter “went before me , because then I wouldn’t be leaving her behind when I die”.

Fiona Kinsella, who will never live an independent life, has been on a care placement waiting list for 13 years.


Speaking about her despair, her mother said: “I’m worn out. I don’t begrudge what I do, but I am really tired.”

In a statement on Friday Mr McGrath said his office had received several contacts from the family and his officials had been in contact with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

“[They] asked that the executive engage fully with the family to ensure that all avenues are explored to find a solution,” he said.

“I have been assured that they have and continue to monitor the situation with regard to Fiona very closely. I am anxious as Minister that any future plans . . . must allow her to continue to achieve her full potential in life and the HSE will tailor their plans accordingly.”


Fiona Kinsella currently attends the Daughters of Charity, St Vincent's Centre on the Navan Road in Dublin, on a daily basis.

In January, Theresa Kinsella’s consultant at Connolly Hospital, Dublin, wrote to the centre outlining a “significant deterioration” over the past six months in her condition.

Her “well-established dementia” had recently led her to leave home with the cooker on and to lose her way “while walking her usual route back from the shops”.

The consultant said “serious safety concerns” arose.

In April, Mr McGrath’s private secretary told the family there were no vacancies available. Finding one was unlikely, they were told, due to there being other clients with “a higher medical priority”.

In his response on Friday, Mr McGrath said he was “particularly concerned of the fears that [older] carers have in the event of they themselves becoming sick and incapable of looking after their loved ones or sadly of what will happen to their loved one in the event of them passing away.”

He said he intended to seek funding for additional residential and respite places.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times