The National Carers’ Strategy was published in July 2012. It entailed a commitment by Government to support family carers. It sets out the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government departments and agencies for carers. The Strategy contains a roadmap for implementation of its objectives, outlining recommended actions, timelines for achievement of objectives and the government departments with responsibility for each action.
The Strategy contains forty-two actions, each aimed at improving the position of family carers in Ireland, and ensuring they are recognised, supported and empowered both in their caring role and in their social and personal lives.
The full Strategy can be viewed here.
As part of the Strategy, Government departments committed to producing an annual progress report. The Carers Association (now Family Carers Ireland) assembled a National Carers’ Strategy Monitoring Group, made up of family carers, Carers Association staff with a range of expertise, and included representation from Care Alliance. Since early 2014, the Monitoring Group has met and carefully assessed Government’s reported progress (as expressed in the 1st and 2nd Progress Reports) against the stated goals, objectives and actions named in the National Carers’ Strategy. The key question the Group asked itself again and again was whether there had been any identifiable impact on family carers’ lives. The Monitoring Group produced a scorecard report, assigning colour-coded scores to each of the actions contained within the strategy.
The first annual government report (Sept. 2012 – Sept. 2013) can be read here, and the second (Sept. 2013 – Sept. 2014) here.
The Strategy was published in a time of austerity, and it was understood that implementations of its actions within the term of the last Government would be on a cost-neutral basis. What has been achieved by the Strategy represents the first steps toward securing fair and equitable treatment of and support for family carers in Ireland, valuing their contribution to, and enabling them more fully to participate in, Irish society.
Response to and engagement with the Strategy from Government departments has been positive. With signs of real economic recovery emerging, including tax take considerably exceeding estimates, a rise in employment and further projected growth, Family Carers Ireland is calling now for renewal of the strategy, and for the allocation of the funding and resources necessary for the full implementation of the Strategy’s objectives.