Dear family carer,
With the news dominated by Covid-19 I wanted to get in touch and let you know what Family Carers Ireland is doing in our efforts to keep you and your loved ones safe, informed and supported.
On foot of the government’s announcement we have cancelled all meetings (including training and fundraising events) for the next two weeks and have authorised work from home measures for all office-based staff from today. This will inevitably cause some disruption to supports to family carers e.g. centres will be closed to visitors and events, including group meetings, cancelled. I recognise the additional stress that will be caused to many of you and your loved ones as routines are disrupted and support becomes more difficult to access. We are doing everything we can to minimise this by developing protocols for delivering supports to family carers in ways that minimise face-to-face contact. If you are experiencing any specific problems or issues and are unable to contact staff locally you should ring Family Carers Ireland’s Freephone Careline (1800-240724) and we will get back to you without delay.
We are receiving a regular stream of requests for guidance and advice from family carers throughout the country. Our website continues to provide a link to the latest government guidance – rather than try to restate that guidance and risk creating confusion we have consciously decided to simply link to the most authoritative sources of advice. We will also be adding a list of Frequently Asked Questions shortly which you may find useful. Whilst we do our best to respond to questions as we receive them we often require information from a public body before we can give an authoritative answer to questions such as What help is available if a live-in carer needs to self-isolate? What procedures are in place for the cared-for person in the event of a family carer taking ill? Can carers access Personal Protective Equipment through HSE supplies? Are (should?) testing criteria be different for family carers? As we get answers to these questions we will disseminate them through the website and through social media. For carers who are not able to access these channels then you are very welcome to call the Freephone Careline (1800-240724) and we will telephone you with the answer as soon as we get guidance from the relevant agency.
The measures that the government announced yesterday mark Ireland’s transition from the containment to the delay phase of responding to Covid-19. Delay applies when it becomes clear that the virus is firmly established in the population and is beginning to spread freely. Its aim is to slow the pace of spread so as to prevent the health service from becoming swamped by serious cases all presenting at the one time. Ireland’s numbers remain low in a European context but there is no room for complacency particularly given the concentration of groups vulnerable to the virus amongst our carers and those they care for.
The COVID challenge is a real one and defeating it will involve effort and sacrifice in communities across the nation. We know that family carers will more than pull their weight in this process, just as they always do in ensuring the ongoing sustainability of our health service. On that basis we remain committed to ensuring that no-one will be left to care alone over the coming months and that the government does not overlook any family carer issue as they grapple with the ‘big picture’.
With very best wishes,