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(Ireland) Galway: Autistic 15-y-o spends nights in psych ward; no services available

June 26, 2022, Independent: Teenager Rian Reynolds sees his loving family every day, but hospital has become his home Youngster’s autism and ADHD means he needs expert care — yet there is nowhere to go in Co Galway
Teenager Rian Reynolds has spent nearly 10 weeks in hospital even though he is not sick.
His father Pat has spent more than 60 nights in a hospital bed next to him. He’s not sick either.
The pair wake every morning and have a light breakfast in the hospital before Rian runs out and jumps into the front of his dad’s van. Pat, a busy electrician from Corofin, Co Galway, then drops his son to school and heads off to work.
At about 2.30pm the school day is over. Rian (15) will be collected by his mother, Sharon, or his aunt Mary.
Usually they will go for a walk. They try to extend it because afterwards Rian will be back in the hospital until it is time to head to school again.
“Rian has autism and ADHD,” Sharon says….

The challenges he lives with mean Rian can become very frustrated. Sometimes that frustration can suddenly turn to extreme agitation. This anxiety can be very difficult for the family to manage.

“It’s impossible to predict when an episode might happen,” Sharon says. Rian’s condition got worse last summer.

The family feel the prolonged break from school was a factor because he is better able to regulate himself there. Rian loves school and Sharon is proud to show off his report card. He has done well in reading and numeracy this year. He missed only one out 171 days because routine is important.

In July last year he was hospitalised for a night after a seizure. He has been on medication since last summer, but nothing has improved. It anything, Rian deteriorated. Prolonged periods at home upset his routine and coincided with a deterioration despite the family’s best efforts to keep him busy.

“I contacted Family Carers Ireland,” Sharon says, “and they gave me some support and we managed at Halloween. He was still agitated but we managed.

"Then I was concerned at Christmas because he had two weeks’ holidays. We did have one outburst in January that was difficult, but then at Easter things really fell apart.”…

“We thought the medicine he was on was not helping. We thought he would go to the Camhs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) in-patient unit in Merlin Park but the consultant psychiatrist said no, that was not the place for Rian.”

Initially emergency respite care was recommended and the family were happy with that.

However, no suitable spaces are available so he has been in hospital since. Rian lives out of a room on the paediatric ward he shares with his dad.

Three weeks after he was hospitalised, the HSE offered Rian a bed at a facility in Gort from the end of August. It was at first unclear what would happen in the meantime, but the family were happy because Rian would only be 30 minutes away. It would be easy to visit him, keep him in school and maintain their close bond. Pat and Sharon completed the necessary paperwork and considered what they would do until August.

Eleven days ago, the offer was withdrawn because of staffing challenges. Places in Sligo, Kilkenny and Cork were offered but are unsuitable because Rian would be isolated from his family. Another facility is under construction in Castlegar, Co Galway. He has not been approved for it yet and a bed will not be available until November.

“We are very nervous now because of what happened with Gort,” Sharon said.

“They said in five weeks’ time there will be a place for Rian in Sligo. He will return to school in Galway in September and I am concerned about how that will be managed.”…

A spokeswoman for HSE Community Healthcare West said the HSE could not comment on Rian remains in hospital. This week his school holidays start, so the one thing he looks forward to every morning will not be there for him.

Sharon says the family cannot take him home without a care plan in place because they fear what will happen to Rian without one.

“We, the HSE, the hospital staff, we all agree we don’t want Rian to be in a hospital. The failing of the system is there’s nowhere for him to go in Galway.”

Sharon and Pat Reynolds with their son Rian


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