Family Carers Ireland has announced that the 2022 Galway Family Carer of the Year is Louise Mac an tSaoi from Ballinasloe.
Louise cares for her son Liam who has chronic lung disease, a serious metabolic disorder called PKU, autism and had his left leg amputated.
Now 12, Liam spent the first few years of his life in Crumlin Hospital with his mother by his side where he underwent multiple surgeries.
Louise battled tirelessly to ensure her son could come home from hospital and has gone above and beyond since the day Liam was born to care for him and make life as normal as possible while also raising her other children.
Her husband, Seán, sadly passed away last year after a long illness.
Now in their 15th year, the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of the more than half a million people in Ireland who provide care at home to loved ones.
They provide care for children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.
The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the State €20 billion a year to replace.
Family carers often go unnoticed in the community despite the immense workload they take on and the significant commitment they show to those that they care for.
This has particularly been the case during the pandemic with many left increasingly isolated.
Family Carers Ireland Community Support Manager for Galway, Michelle Moriarty, said caring for a loved one at home can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging, particularly in the absence of vital supports and services including respite.
“This can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing. Often, a person can find themselves taking on the role of a family carer with little or no warning,” she said.
“These are mums, dads, sons, daughters, siblings, relatives, friends and colleagues who sometimes don’t even see themselves as family carers. They are doing extraordinary work that is too often unseen and undervalued.
“These awards are an important event in our calendar every year as we seek to provide some small recognition to all of those who care at home for loved ones with additional needs and to ensure their stories are heard.”
“As a charity, we want family carers to know that they are not alone and that we are here to help them no matter where they find themselves on their caring journey.
“As a society, we must ensure that family carers are not only recognised for their immense contribution, but truly supported to care safely at home.”
Mick Galwey, Netwatch Brand Ambassador, said family carers are the backbone of our local communities and the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards offer a chance to highlight their sheer tenacity, selflessness and resilience.
“We have learnt more than ever over the last two years just how important caring is. Family carers are ordinary people we know doing extraordinary work behind closed doors.
“It is only right that we champion their contribution and to be a part of that is very special to me and to Netwatch.”