Dolores Foley and her husband Michael live in Mayfield with their four children, Lillian (15), Elsa (13), Jerry (11) and Billy (9).
Jerry Forrest has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration.
Dolores is a retired secondary school teacher and full-time carer for Jerry. She took part in Crann’s ‘A Moment for Me’ course. This is a four-week wellness programme designed for carers of those with physical or additional needs.
Dolores learned about Crann through other parents at the Rebel Wheelers Multi Sports Club. She described her very positive experience with ‘A Moment for Me’ as an “essential and unique service available to carers”.
A unique service that all carers should avail of”
Before finding ‘A Moment for Me’ Dolores said she found wellbeing services 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.”
Covid-19 restrictions have had a significant impact for carers across the country. They have restricted access to essential services and placed extra pressure on carers who have taken up new roles at 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 told us that ‘A Moment for Me’ has helped her manage during lockdown. She said it gave her a new perspective as a carer. “In a sense, what 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.”