Due to large numbers of carers and groups being unable to travel tomorrow in light of strikes, Family Carers Ireland has had to cancel the scheduled National Carers Convention in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin on 25th March. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. The Convention will be rescheduled for later in the year.
Archives for March 2017
On January 16th, Minister Helen McEntee announced that a consultation process is to be launched with a view to establishing a new statutory homecare scheme. She emphasised that for many the best care possible can be provided in their own homes, surrounded by the people and communities that they love.
Minister McEntee stated that the scheme must be cost-effective, sustainable and regulated. A consultation process, which is planned to begin in the coming months, will allow all those who have views on this topic to have their say, including care recipients, their families and health care workers. Family Carers Ireland has advocated for years for Government to work toward establishment of a statutory homecare scheme. We understand that the consultation will discuss a scheme that will include care-recipients of all ages. Family Carers Ireland welcomes the announcement of the consultation process and will ensure carers’ views are heard.
Family Carers Ireland members were invited by the Department of Health to make a presentation on February 8th to the British Irish Council on the experiences of carers of people with mental health difficulties. Joan Higgins and Gina Delaney with FCI Policy and Public Affairs Manager Clare Duffy gave a presentation entitled ‘Experiences of Carers of People with Mental Health Difficulties’, and subsequently engaged in a discussion on the challenges facing carers for people with mental difficulties and the responses and initiatives that have helped address these. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Health Helen McEntee and HSE Head of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement Liam Hennessy.
The British Irish Council was established under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement to promote the exchange of information and best practice across its member administrations (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, United Kingdom, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey). The BIC has identified the issue of caregiving as a priority area for consideration within their work programme 2015 – 2017.
Your Questions Answered
I’ve heard about changes to the PRSI Voluntary Contribution Scheme – what does this mean and will it affect me as a carer?
If you’ve had to give up work, or take extended periods away from work because of your caring responsibilities, your entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory) may be affected. There are a number of schemes in place to help protect a person’s entitlement to a State Pension, one of which is the Voluntary Contribution Scheme. Voluntary contributions are PRSI contributions you can opt to pay if you are between the age of 16 and 66 and are no longer covered by compulsory PRSI by way of insurable employment and/or self-employment. On February 6th Minister Varadkar announced positive changes to the Voluntary Contribution Scheme. One of these changes was increasing the period a person can apply to make voluntary contributions from 1 to 5 years. This means that carers who have had to give up work to provide care can, if they wish, apply to pay voluntary contributions for up to 5 years after their last paid contribution made through employment. If you are getting a social welfare payment such as Carer’s Allowance or signing for credits you may get credited contributions which will also keep your social insurance record up to date so there is no need to pay voluntary contributions.
How to apply: To become a voluntary contributor, you must complete application form VC1 and return it to the Voluntary Contributions Section, Department of Social Protection, Cork Road, Waterford. LoCall 1890 690 690
Family Carers Ireland has prepared a useful guide to help carers understand the pension system which can be downloaded here.
Family Carers Ireland was among fifteen organisations awarded funding from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment under their Digital Skills for Citizens Programme. The Department describes the purpose of the scheme: “The internet is a wonderful resource and it’s for everybody. However, almost one in six Irish adults has never used the internet. The Department’s ‘Getting Citizens Online Programme’ is, in line with the National Digital Strategy, focused on encouraging and empowering citizens to participate fully in Ireland’s digital economy and society. The Programme includes a grant scheme to fund digital skills training for citizens who have never used the internet with a view to removing a key barrier to digital adoption.”
The Programme aims to target what it calls ‘non-liners’, i.e. those who are not currently or have never been online, offering skills to give them confidence in using the internet. Courses will be offered by Family Carers Ireland over the coming year in locations around the country. We are currently recruiting qualified tutors and finalising locations and other details of the training, and will advertise locations soon.
If you know anyone who would benefit from these courses, do let them know about the scheme, or if you feel that you would yourself like to avail of it, don’t hesitate to contact us.
To register your own, a friend or a relative’s interest, you can contact the Digital Training Project Coordinator Sheena Twist in our Ennis office on 065 6866515/086 4121869, or you can drop in to your local centre to enquire about the courses.
If you would like to enquire on behalf of other ‘non-liners’, or if you have recently been introduced to online browsing and set up an email address, but feel you would benefit from further basic classes on navigating the internet, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.