Family Carers Ireland, the national charity supporting Ireland’s family carers, is delighted to announce that the 2022 Netwatch Roscommon Family Carer of the Year is Martina O’Leary from Bealnamulla.
Martina, who is mother to Abi (16), Leon (10) and Kyle (6), cares full-time for her two sons.
Kyle has been diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a rare condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal and can cause severe pain, and Syringomyelia, which causes fluid-filled cysts to form within the spinal cord. He underwent brain surgery in 2019, but there is no cure for his condition.
Leon suffers from chronic migraines which can cause him to pass out and he has spent much of his life in and out of hospital between Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
Husband David, who nominated Martina for the award, describes his wife as an “amazing woman” who always puts others first and deals with whatever life throws at her, even with just two or three hours sleep at night. Martina also helps to care for her mother who has been ill.
Now in their 15th year, the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of the more than half a million people in Ireland who provide care at home to loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.
Family Carers Ireland Community Support Manager for Roscommon, Bernie Dowling said: “Caring for a loved one at home can be rewarding but it can also be challenging, particularly in the absence of vital supports and services including respite. This can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing. They are doing extraordinary work that is too often unseen and undervalued.
“These awards are an important event in our calendar every year as we seek to provide some small recognition to all of those who care at home for loved ones with additional needs and to ensure their stories are heard.
“As a charity, we want family carers to know that they are not alone and that we are here to help them no matter where they find themselves on their caring journey. As a society, we must ensure that family carers are not only recognised for their immense contribution, but truly supported to care safely at home”.