Kildare carer says they are the 'unsung heroes' of Covid-19 pandemic

Support: Carers often the only faces seen by many elderly people

Niamh O'Donoghue

Reporter:

Niamh O'Donoghue

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niamh.odonoghue@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare carer says they are the 'unsung heroes' of Covid-19 pandemic

Debbie Morone

“I think carers are the unsung heros of the pandemic. They give families the peace of mind that their loved ones are being cared for and so well looked after.

“They are visited twice or three times a day and often the carers can be the only faces they get to see due to the Covid restrictions. I don’t think carers get the credit they deserve. Most people don’t realise all the work they do, I certainly didn’t until I became a carer myself,” explained Debbie Morone from Celbridge.

After enjoying a successful career in the civil service, the 44-year-old mum of two decided to opt for a total change when Covid-19 hit last year. While recruiting for an education course for carers, the idea of a role in that arena lured her into her new profession.

Debbie has spent almost a year as a home care assistant with Right at Home.

People like Debbie play an important role in local communities and their work enables so many individuals to continue living an independent life from the comfort of their own home.

Throughout the pandemic, Debbie and her colleagues worked tirelessly to support their clients while incorporating new measures to protect them, including wearing full PPE.

Having now secured a promotion, Debbie started her role as a client care coordinator last week.

“I previously worked in the Dublin South, Kildare and Wicklow areas. I really am so happy doing what I do. I can’t believe I didn’t make the change sooner. I think you have to be a particular type of person to be a carer, but I didn’t know I was that kind of person until I did it,” she said.

Right at Home cares for private clients as well as clients of the HSE.

With the emergence of Covid, there was a huge demand for carers and many people who were new to the field did the HSE Land training including Debbie. She is now studying for her QQI Level 5 course at present.

She explained that she cares for elderly people, those suffering with chronic conditions and degenerative diseases.

Carers are on the frontline when it comes to community care.

“The carers have held the community together and we stepped up when families needed us to,” she added.

The carers help their clients with their medication, personal care, meals and day to day support.

Providing basic human contact and a chat is a key element to their work.

“You sit down with them and chat about what is going on in the world.

“When I was out on the road, I could have a client in Ballyknockan, then I’d go to Lucan, then to Maynooth, to Celbridge, into Naas and back up to Ballyknockan again. I did that every day. I loved it,” she said.

She said it has been heartbreaking to see how her clients have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s really hard for them. So many of them have been in isolation. Most of them have not stepped outside their door apart from one or two going to see their GPs, or to the hospital. They have to get a Covid test before their appointment. They have never experienced anything like this in their lifetime.”

One client in his fifties who contracted Covid last year and was in ICU for a lengthy time, is making a good recovery.

Serious

“He was on a lot of oxygen but now only needs it at night. He was a healthy fit man and it has really affected him badly. He said to me ‘Debbie do people not understand how serious this is?”

As of last week, Debbie estimates that only 40% of her clients had been vaccinated so far.

As a single parent to ten year old twins, Debbie is supported by her wonderful partner.

In her new role, she will be dealing clients and carers over the phone.

“I will still have that human contact which is good,” she stressed.

She is looking forward to stepping up again and ensuring all the clients are well looked after and cared for.

“I am in a career I love and I want to keep doing it the best I can,” she said.