Portlaoise native Theresa Keyes has been named the Netwatch Laois Family Carer of the Year for 2021.
Theresa has two adult sons Mark and Peter who have special needs.
Peter lives at home with his mother while Mark is in residential care but still comes home for his holidays.
Theresa also cared for her late husband for many years before he sadly passed away from Covid last January. She is a remarkable and caring lady who always puts her family first.
The annual awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s forgotten frontline who go the extra mile every day in caring for loved ones with additional needs.
More than 500,000 people in Ireland provide unpaid care in the home for children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental ill-health, or addiction.
The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the state €20bn a year to replace.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all of society but especially for family carers and those they care for who saw essential services and supports severely impacted.
The blanket withdrawal of supports such as homecare, respite, personal assistance hours and residential care during lockdown forced many to care alone, around the clock.
When Ireland shut down, family carers stepped up in support of their loved ones.
Laois Offaly Carer Supports Manager Beth Wogan said: “Now more than ever, family carers deserve to be recognised for their enormous contribution to our society.
“Their unyielding commitment to care for their loved ones at home, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, has been nothing short of remarkable and this sacrifice often comes at a cost to their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing.
“These awards are about paying tribute to all of Ireland’s 500,000 family carers and shining a light on the immense work that they do, day in, day out, often with little or no help from the State.
“Their essential contribution to our national healthcare system needs to be properly acknowledged and supported.”
Colin Hayes, Netwatch Head of Business, Ireland & UK said: “This is our third year partnering with Family Carers Ireland, and yet again we are blown away by the level of sacrifice, care and commitment shown by each and every carer.
“It’s an honour to be part of this and hope that our involvement can help in even a small way to highlight this charity and support the needs of its members.”