Limerick woman with cerebral palsy experiencing ‘Isolation and loneliness’ due to Covid-19

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick woman with cerebral palsy experiencing ‘Isolation and loneliness’ due to Covid-19

When restrictions are lifted, Jessica Keegan is most looking forward to going for coffee and meals again in Limerick city

JESSICA Keegan can’t wait to get a hug when restrictions are eased.

That simple gesture of another human’s arms around her would mean so much to this tactile and warm person.

Jessica, who turned 30 in January, lives in independent living accommodation in Limerick.

“I am living with cerebral palsy and I'm a full-time wheelchair user. I rely on 24-hour support to live independently; this is why my current home set-up is completely inappropriate for my needs - both for my day-to-day living activities and my social activities.

“Before Covid I used to enjoy going downtown to soak up the atmosphere and going for coffees. I was and am a real foodie so I enjoy going to different restaurants and spending time in the Crescent Shopping Centre. Due to the fact that my accommodation doesn't suit my needs I was never able to partake as much as I would like,” said Jessica.

Since Covid arrived on our shores the opportunities to get out and about have reduced even more. 

“I spend a lot of extra time alone as my staff at my home accommodation were told to reduce their contact with me due to the virus, even though I haven't been getting enough contact time at my home accommodation since I moved into Limerick over seven years ago.”

Jessica says isolation and loneliness have been the worst parts of this global pandemic for her.

“In the first lockdown my day centre service provided by Enable Ireland was forced to stop from March 2020 to the end of August 2020. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Enable Ireland, Quinn's Cross, as they did so much for me during the Covid crisis, e.g. telephone support during the working week and which they continue to do every day when I attend Enable Ireland due to the fact that my home situation is completely unsuitable for my physical and emotional needs.”

She agrees that Covid and all its implications have been more cruel on people with disabilities.

“Yes, definitely, both physically and emotionally as I'm a very social person.”

When restrictions are lifted, Jessica is most looking forward to going for coffee and meals again.

“To get some of my social life back. Also, for me to be able to receive hugs due to the fact that I'm a very tactile and warm person.”

If something like this ever happens again what can be done to ensure people in the disability sector are taken care of better?

“Put people with disabilities’ social needs first, that carers from all the organisations wouldn't be told to be so clinical around their service owners. As for me personally this has heightened the fear that was already brewing inside me that people with disabilities should not be classed more vulnerable unless stated by the individual's doctor.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say that people with disabilities should be looked at on an individual basis and not put in a service which is wrong for their needs and that their wishes would be taken into account.”