Above: Eugene McSweeney (left) and his family have welcomed Sean Murphy into their home under the Home Link service. Home Link involves having a child or adult with an intellectual disability or autism visit your home for short breaks.
Short break services have always been a crucial component in the mix of supports provided to children and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism. In 2012, CoAction introduced Home Link as another option of short break services. The uniqueness of this service is that individuals and families provide it in their own home.
Home Link Co-ordinator Emma O’Sullivan explains: “Home Link involves having a child or adult with an intellectual disability or autism visit your home for short breaks. These short visits, depending on how much time the person is willing to give, are typically for a few hours at the weekend on a monthly basis. The benefits of this service are immense, providing opportunities to meet new people, gain new experiences and form new friendships in a homely environment”.
The McSweeney family is one of few people who have opened their homes and hearts and provide short breaks for CoAction. Over the past year, Mary and Eugene McSweeney have welcomed Sean into their lives. “I first heard about Home Link when I saw a note in my parish newsletter and we jumped at the chance to meet someone and provide a break for them. We had previously provided respite to young girl with Down Syndrome when our children were young. That experience enriched our lives and we saw this as a great opportunity to share our time with someone.
“Once we received Garda clearance and the assessment and training was completed, we were matched with a young man the same age as our own children and who has a keen interest in cars. Sean fitted right in,” said Mary. “He loves going up to the yard (Denis McSweeney & Son Ltd) with Eugene to see the lorries, and he enjoys going for spins in the vintage car. A surprise for everyone was Sean’s interest and love for our pets Bailey and Bertie. Sean doesn’t have any pets at home and enjoys our dog and cat when he visits. He loves watching them chase each other around the house.”
“Sean has become part of our family. Like us he is very easy going, he watches football matches with the men and he goes with the flow.” The power of Home Link is that everyone benefits from it. Mary said, “for Sean, it’s his own break and for his parents they can see that he has a place to visit and has a social life outside of his home. For us we have made a new friend and get to enjoy Sean’s company.”
Mary’s advice to anyone thinking about providing Home Link; “there is nothing to be nervous of, and there is great support from CoAction. Just go for it!”
Due to the success of Home Link, CoAction is looking for more individuals and families to join this fantastic service this spring. No experience is necessary as full training and on-going support is provided. Anyone interesting in becoming involved or would like further information can contact Emma O’Sullivan on (023) 8855505, 086 0278982, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.