Dolores Foley and her husband Michael live in Mayfield with their four children, Lillian (15), Elsa (13), Jerry (11) and Billy (9).
The couple’s 11-year-old son Jerry Forrest has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration.
Delores, a retired secondary school teacher and full-time carer for Jerry, was a recent participant in Crann’s ‘A Moment for Me’, a four-week wellness programme specifically designed for carers of those with physical or additional needs.
Dolores, learned of The Crann Centre through other parents at the Rebel Wheelers Multi Sports Club, and has spoken of her own very positive experience with the ‘A Moment for Me’ programme, describing it as an “essential and unique service available to carers”.
A unique service that all carers should avail of
Delores says that she had looked into accessing wellbeing services prior to her participation in ‘A Moment for Me’ but said that any services she found proved to be costly or difficult to access. “My husband and I just kept putting it off. HSE referrals tended to be more condition focused. And that is obviously essential, but there wasn’t much in the way of a family focused service.
“There were odd get-togethers at other organisations, but that was mostly when Jerry was younger. And often they tended to peter out. And then Crann appeared and it instantly filled a gap for parents like us.”
The COVID-19 restrictions have had a significant impact for carers across the country, restricting access to essential services and placing increasing pressure on parents to continue to provide care in addition to taking on new roles in the home. “In a sense we’ve been fortunate, because of our circumstances. Jerry has his siblings, we have outdoor space for them to play and both myself and Michael have been at home to provide the care that’s needed. But the disruption to Jerry’s routine has at times been perhaps the most difficult aspect for him.”
Dolores says that the ‘A Moment for Me’ programme has helped her manage during the restrictions while also giving her a new perspective as a carer. “In a sense, what the course provided that I found to be most beneficial was that it offered affirmation for what we’re already doing everyday as carers. The thing that appealed most to me at first was the gentle nature of the programme and the content, but getting to speak with other carers and sharing our experiences in a safe, welcoming space was a breath of fresh air.
“There was a very small degree of trepidation at first. It was almost a nagging sense that perhaps we were being a bit self-indulgent. And that feeling does manifest itself sometimes. But self-care as a carer is just so important. Being able to step back, take a moment and focus on your own wellbeing makes you a better carer. It gives you perspective and it equips you to deal with situations as they arise.
“The group was very supportive of one another and everyone always looked forward to the next week. Finding that course was like waving a magic wand. It is a wonderful programme to have available, a one-of-a-kind, and I’d strongly recommend to anyone caring for someone to get involved.”