Thomas is 51 years of age and became a resident at St Doolagh’s Park on the 13th October 2010. He has spent 2 years in the Mater Hospital in Dublin and a further year in the National Rehabilitation Hospital prior to coming to St Doolagh’s Park. Tommy, as he likes to be known, had been assaulted and had suffered a traumatic brain injury and also a hypoxic brain injury from the assault.
Tommy describes his life before his injury as being a “busy but chaotic life”. He worked as a chef, but also says he was drinking heavily and using drugs on a regular basis. This led to other health complications that Tommy has learned to live with very well during his time in St Doolagh’s Park. His health is “great” as he describes it. “The Nurses and Rehabilitation Assistants have really helped me when I have been ill. I know how to take my medication properly and when I need to get medical help. I also can go to my hospital appointments alone now and this has been really important to me. The staff have also taught me how important it is to eat properly, have regular meals and to drink plenty of water to keep me well”
Tommy talks about coming to St Doolagh’s Park and not being able to “do anything for myself, I laid in bed for 3 months, thinking I would never be able to do anything independently again” Tommy was encouraged to start attending physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and started to see small changes happening. Tommy says “Physiotherapy was hard, I wasn’t able to do anything, wasn’t able to stand and walk. Bit by bit I had to learn all over again. It took me 5 years to learn to walk again, and now I can walk using a 4 wheeled rollator. I just knew I had to start doing things for myself, or I would always be that way” Tommy attends Physiotherapy sessions with Orlaith O’Malley, the Senior Physiotherapist.
Tommy also started to learn to do day to day activities for himself. “I started to work with the occupational therapist, doing things like making tea, or a sandwich for myself. It is the small things that can be hard sometimes” The Occupational Therapist started to work with me to use a powered wheelchair then, it was about 6 years since my injury. It made the world of difference to me. I had to learn about being safe out in public, crossing roads, avoiding pot holes and all that. About three years ago then, Maurice Harte the senior Occupational Therapist started to teach me to use the buses. This opened up my world again and I was able to go and see my family on the bus. I can plan my routes; check timetables and I am able to get on and off the bus easily when they let down the ramp.” Tommy also learned to use the mobile phone and takes this wherever he goes. Maurice also worked with Tommy to help him to learn to budget and manage his money again.
Tommy also describes the Psychological supports he has had in St Doolagh’s Park as being essential to his recovery. He says, “I had to sort my head out. My life before was work, drink and drugs, and although I hadn’t used since being in hospital it is hard to recover from addiction” Dr Ciara Byrne linked Tommy in with Community addiction supports so that he can continue to stay free from addiction when he goes to his new home. Tommy has also made new friends through this support group, which he has found invaluable.
Tommy applied to the local authority to be placed on the list for level access accommodation that would mean he is able to live as independently as possible. He says, “It was a very long waiting list, I have been on the list since I came to St Doolagh’s Park, and this is the first time I have been offered something that meets my needs.” The accommodation is newly renovated and has everything that Tommy needs for independent living going forward. His family are close by and community supports have been arranged for him, such as community Occupational Therapy, GP and Pharmacy services, and Public Health services.
Tommy has embraced his new life and looks forward to the future living beside his family and friends. He has been abroad on holiday after rediscovering his independence and states that “I wouldn’t change anything about St Doolaghs. I have come so far from where I was, and would not have been able to do this without all the staff here helping me and giving me the push I need when things get tough. I will miss the place, but I am so glad to be moving on after 10 years of recovery”