Moving from an institution to a home

 

Sir, – As the dust settles on Budget 2022, we pack up our stalls, we go back to being busy about other things, the Irish saying “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin” (There is no fireside like your own fireside) has played on my mind. There is something about that expression that resonates in our collective souls; the quest for a place to call home, the unrest and uneasiness until we find it, the brutal reality that many people never will.

I am reminded of a woman with an intellectual disability I worked alongside for years, she grew up in an institution living with 20 people for most of her adult life, falling into the rhythm of days punctuated by pre-ordained activities, meals and staff schedules, cared for but with little control over her own life . It was a house, but not a home; she never chose who she lived with, who got to come into her home every day or even where her home was. When she finally moved into her own house she spoke beautifully about how for the first time in her life, she had her own frontdoor key and what both a joyful and a frightening thing that was. She often waited in the early days of moving out for a staff member to open the door, until one day she fully understood “this is my own front door, this is my own fireplace” and she embraced all that it meant.

For the 1,300 people with disabilities under the age of 65 living in nursing homes right now, for the 2,800 people with intellectual disabilities who continue to live in institutions, for the thousands more who continue to live with their families for decades longer than an adult should have to, this budget did little to bring hope of a warm fire and a front door key .

The €5 million promised to fund people moving out of institutions will result in possibly 60 people moving into homes of their own next year. At that rate it will take 50 years for all people living in group homes to open their own front door and to sit in front of their own fireplace. We need a fire lit within us. – Yours, etc,

DERVAL McDONAGH,

Chief Executive,

Inclusion Ireland,

Dublin 1.