Dan Smyth is 11 years old and attends Lavanagh House, Enable Ireland’s respite centre for children in Cork. Dan’s mum Ann talks to us about the importance of respite services for children like Dan and their families.
“Dan is always up for a laugh and loves to meet new people. He is very outgoing and adores school, especially music and home economics, and going to the respite service with Enable Ireland. He is an amazing boy and has a real head for names. If he meets a person he will always remember their name. He love going out and taking part in whatever we are doing. Nothing stops Dan, wherever we are going, he has to go too.
Dan has been going to respite with Enable Ireland for a few years now. He absolutely loves going there. He especially loves the staff who work there and the social aspect of it. He knows all the girls there and knows their names better than me! He goes to respite two weekends a year and he also does day trips and outings during the year with them. The service was fantastic during the summer when I broke my leg. They were able to step in and Dan stayed with them for a week. It is an amazing services.
"Respite is an essential service for children with disabilities and their families"
Respite is an essential service for children with disabilities and their families, but if I didn’t have Dan, I probably wouldn’t know anything about respite, and how essential it is. Respite is not just important for Dan, it is important for our whole family. It gives me a break and it benefits our whole family. I’m a single mum and I would be totally lost without the support. It was strange when he first started going to respite as up to then it had always been the four of us all together. But we all need a break sometimes and that includes Dan too! Just to get out of the house and be somewhere different.
"The staff in Enable Ireland look after Dan like he was their own child."
For me, when Dan is away at respite it is a chance for me to do something with my other children and that is very important too. I am not a bit worried about him when he is there. The staff in Enable Ireland look after Dan like he was their own child. When he goes to respite, he gets collected from school on a Friday and then he gets dropped back to Mallow where I collect him. He is always sad to leave his friends in respite as he has so much fun and lots of adventures there. For days after, Dan will still be talking about his time in respite.
"We really couldn’t do without the respite service from Enable Ireland. “