AT just six months old, Daniel O’Callaghan Sheehan had a life-saving tracheostomy tube inserted into his neck at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
Just over a year ago, his parents, Michelle and Pat O’Callaghan Sheehan, from Blackpool, were forcded to live separate lives to care for him, passing one another by on the M8 every other week, making the arduous trip from Cork to Crumlin to be by Daniel’s bedside.
Happily, the family have been reunited at home in Cork for the past year and Daniel, now two and a half, is running around, having fun like any other little toddler.
He recently enjoyed The Resilience Care Family Fun Day at St. Columba’s Sports Club in Douglas. The annual event is kindly supported by local party experts Bounce Box, Irish Photo booths and SCAN Productions.
The initiative by the team of nurse managers and staff at Resilience Care is in its third year and offers children and their loved ones an opportunity to connect, support each other and most importantly to have fun.
“The Resilience Care team puts a huge effort into our Family Fun Day each year to make this event a special occasion for our guests. We want to give back something to the families we work with so closely with throughout the year,” says managing director Laura Keane.
Daniel lives in Blackpool with his mum Michelle, dad Pat and siblings Sarah, aged eight, and Michael, 13.
When a pregnant Michelle went to Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) for a routine blood pressure check, she was shocked to find herself being whisked down to theatre for an emergency C-section. Daniel was born prematurely at 28 weeks.
“Daniel weighed one pound, six ounces when he was born and was only the size of a 24 week old baby. He needed a ventilator as soon as he was born and was on 90% oxygen to stay alive. We christened him when he was two days old,” Michelle explains.
“He has a tracheostomy tube in his neck as he has problems breathing because his airways are weak in three different areas and he has chronic lung disease.”
Daniel spent the first five months of his life in intensive care at CUMH and after further complications, was transferred to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin where he underwent a lifesaving tracheostomy operation in May 2015. This increased Daniel’s mobility and in turn his overall development.
Thanks to Resilience Care’s Advanced Home Care service, Daniel has spent the last year at home in Cork under the watchful care of his parents and the support of the nurses and healthcare personnel who assist in Daniel’s ongoing care at home.
“Basically, Daniel couldn’t come home without a nurse and care package. It just wouldn’t be possible. From 10pm until 8am, there is a nurse, seven nights a week in our house and we have a HCA (Health Care Assistant) for four hours a day, two days a week to help us bring Daniel out and about because he was on oxygen and the ventilator up until recently.
“He is a bit more stable now. We’re getting there but, until the tracheotomy tube comes out, there will be a nurse with us every night of the week,” says Michelle.
The mum admits that having a young child with complex medical needs takes its toll and is tough on the rest of the family at times.
“It is life changing. Your day to day life completely changes. It is hard on my other two kids as Daniel’s health must take priority. I have to say though, both my kids and extended family have been amazing!
“Often, you are mentally and physically drained by the time the nurse comes to the house. A few hours sleep is what gets you through the next day.”
Founded in 2011, Resilience Care is the only home care provider in Ireland working exclusively in the management of complex care services.
Supporting people with medical conditions as a result of injury, illness or disability, and those who require medical technology to survive, Resilience Care has particular expertise in tracheostomy care, and has delivered some of Ireland’s most complex homecare packages in partnership with the HSE.
These nurse-managed packages enable individuals and their families to live as full and independent a life as possible. The Advanced Home Care package, which currently serves 39 families nationwide, supports the transition of children and adults with complex medical issues from acute hospital settings back to adapted home environments.
Laura Keane, MD of Resilience Care, is from Limerick and joined the company 18 months ago. With a Masters in Health Service Management from Trinity College Dublin and over 27 years’ experience working in health and social care services, she has overseen the registration and preparation of neartly 50 designated centres nationwide. With offices in Dublin, Limerick and Ennis, she manages the wide variety of services within Resilience Care, namely Advanced Home Care, Social Care and Therapy Services.
Laura says that central to the Advanced Home Care Service is the ethos of empowering their clients and the families. “Our vision is the empowerment and development of people with complex medical needs and disabilities to become true citizens and to participate fully in the lives of their communities.
“The name ‘Resilience’ embodies our philosophy because it deals with people overcoming difficulties and barriers to get the best out of their lives that they can possibly get.”
Clients are predominantly referred by the HSE, though there are also a number of cases that Resilience Care supports privately whereby individuals directly commission their services.
“When a client is referred, we do an assessment to look at how we might provide the most useful supports. Our care packages are personalised and tailored toward the specific needs of the individual,” says Laura.
While a family being reunited is of course a positive step, it can also present some challenges and according to Laura one of the main complexities is trying to achieve the delicate balance between home and a workplace.
“There may be staff members in the family home 24/7 in the form of maybe 12 or 13 people coming through their house working shifts in a week. In some cases, they might have a nurse and a HCA on duty 24/7. There is a lot of traffic in their house and they are trying to manage the household. These are the extra stresses, which is why our nurse managers visit the homes regularly to check in with the parents. We aspire to ensure the quality of our services is 110%. We constantly look at improving our services.”
Michelle and Pat admit that their journey with Daniel is ongoing but with the support of Resilience Care, he has come on in leaps and bounds.
“Daniel is doing really well at the moment. He recently came off the ventilator and now only needs a little oxygen at night,” says Michelle. “Compared to where he was at this time last year… it is just amazing! He is amazing. He makes it all worthwhile and makes you smile and forget it all. He is always up to mischief and a real little character!”
For more information, visit www.resilience.ie