Whilst Covid-19 has impacted all in Irish society, for family carers it has further exacerbated the postcode lottery in supports and services. Families who are caring for children, adults and older persons with a disability and/or long-term illness urgently require:
A roadmap for families outlining how their individual services will resume (school, day care, respite) including transport provision and a very clear timeline and budget for same.
“During lockdown, services were withdrawn and carers were without the support of extended family and friends. Today, many carers are exhausted, burnt out and feeling more “caged” than ever. A big worry is that the publication of the HSE’s ‘Framework for the Resumption of Adult Disability Day Services’ reinforces fears that essential services will be reduced,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland.
“The COVID crisis should not be used as a reason to rationalize services but as an opportunity to improve them,” she continued.
“Families should be given a cash payment towards meeting transport costs as happened prior to 2013 with the Mobility Allowance. Respite care was already wholly inadequate prior to the pandemic and cannot be allowed to become virtually non-existent. New modes of respite must be considered including supported hotel stays, in-home respite, host family respite, day-break services and summer/weekend camps.”
Family carers nationwide request the support of new Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman to instruct and support service providers to develop this vital roadmap in consultation with each family as a matter of urgency.
Before Covid-19, 75 per cent of carers had trouble accessing services. Since the crisis began, this has further deteriorated. Research carried out by Family Carers Ireland highlights the massive impact of Covid-19 on the lives of Ireland’s 355,000+ family carers. (Access the report here.)
- 43 per cent of family carers surveyed report being concerned that essential services such as respite and day care will not be restored to their previous levels after the crisis.
- 56 per cent reported that their loved ones are displaying more challenging behaviour because of the lack of essential services.
- 63 per cent see a decline in the health and wellbeing of their loved one. Routine medical appointments such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy are being cancelled, leading to great concern about the long-term effects on their loved one.
For Liz O Neill, a Kilkenny family carer, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. She cares for her two daughters, Emma and Katie, one with a severe disability and one with moderate needs.
She has experienced first-hand the negative effects of Covid-19. Liz’s youngest daughter Katie ended up in Crumlin with meningitis during lockdown. The HSE stepped up and supported the family with home care during this crisis period but she is now very concerned about her older daughter who she feels has regressed without her day services and supports.
“I am terribly worried about my older daughter Emma not having her regular services. It has had a very negative impact on her emotional wellbeing and it is very unclear when and how her services will be reinstated.”
Catherine Cox, Head of Carer Engagement and Communication with Family Carers Ireland, said:
“Liz is a typical example of families up and down the country who are struggling through the crisis and anxiously awaiting resumption of crucial services. Family carers desperately need a roadmap to reopening services. There needs to be a budget allocated per child and plans put in place to safely reopen facilities to reassure family carers that their loved ones are cared for properly.”