The Central Statistics Office has revealed today that the number of family carers in Ireland is up from 187,112 in 2011 to 195,263 in 2016. Family Carers Ireland say there is likely an additional 160,000 family carers but many don’t identify themselves as carers until in crisis.
“The CSO’s Irish Health Survey findings released last year found that 10 per cent of the population provide care, suggesting a figure closer to 360,000. Many carers do not identify themselves as carers until they are in crisis and in urgent need of support” said Catherine Cox, Family Carers Ireland.
Year on year family carers’ contribution to the state is increasing not only in terms of the number of family carers but also in the number of hours of care they provide. However, at a time when the state should be investing further in home care we are seeing home help, a vital support for family carers, cut by a staggering 50,000 hours nationally in January and February this year, compared to the same period in 2016.
“The coming weeks will see the launch of a much welcomed consultation on establishing a right to home care. Any future homecare scheme will require more investment and not cuts like those imposed in the earlier part of this year. The statutory consultation process could take up to two years and we need investment in supports for family carers now. We cannot afford to wait” said Catherine Cox.
“The Central Statistics Office has been very supportive of our carers self-identification campaign but we have more work to do. We have people coming to us daily who have been caring for years, but don’t see themselves as carers until they are at crisis point. We hope to work with the CSO on the next Census to include more in-depth questions to help carers self-identify at an earlier stage in their caring role. With an ageing population and an increase of 20,319 people with disabilities aged 65 and over, the demand for family carers will only continue to rise” said Catherine Cox.
Family Carers Ireland provides a range of supports and services for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide and advocates fairness for carers. The organisation is currently running it’s ‘Share the Care’ campaign calling for a shared responsibility for caring in Ireland.