Family Carers Ireland was successful under the last round of Dormant Accounts funding in securing a grant of €338,464. The specific category of the 2018 funding was former carers. The funding will allow us to roll out a number of initiatives across the country which support not only former carers, but also those who are preparing for the transition from the caring role.
The flagship programme will be our nationwide ‘Plan C’ Programme: Family carers have already had to make one hugely significant, life altering change in their lives. Their original life trajectory, Plan A, has been derailed by the necessity to provide full-time care to a family member, Plan B. The totality of a carer’s role and responsibility mean that they rarely have the space to plan for the time that their caring role will end, Plan C. This was designed in response to feedback from carers regarding the difficulties of transitioning from the caring role, and adjusting to new circumstances.
For many, it means re-entry to the workforce; for others, adapting to new roles later in life and for others becoming more involved in activities they could not focus on while caring. The goal of the ‘Plan C’ project is to give carers the space and structured support to consider their post-care future. Current carers and former carers will be supported to consider what life-skills they have acquired through their years of caregiving.
For some carers this will mean translating their caregiving-acquired skills into examples that will speak to prospective employers. For example, with support a carer could see that through the caring role they have become very adept at navigating bureaucracies in order to secure supports for the person they care for. This could be presented as a very attractive skill to prospective employers.
The Plan C project will also be of benefit to those carers who do not envision returning to the workplace once their caring role has ended. Many carers experience loneliness and social isolation and the postcare transition can be very difficult to navigate. Plan C will support carers to consider how they might best reintegrate with their local community, through volunteering and participation. It will also support them to consider whether the Family Caring mentoring project would be appropriate for them as a way of putting their years of caring experience to further use.
It is intended that all Family Carers Ireland carer groups will be visited by the Programme Manager, to be given the chance to avail of and participate in this exciting initiative.
The mentoring and befriending project is an initiative which will also be funded, and for which regional mentoring coordinators will be recruited. These will offer training to former carers who wish to give back to their community or to put their years of care to good account by mentoring current carers; or who wish to participate in a befriending programme in their local community.
The projects funded will also include important actions to establish relationships with employers to work toward better facilitation of carers returning to the workplace following medium-term leave to meet caring obligations (e.g. carer’s leave); to convene academic researchers in the field of life after care for an information sharing event; and to understand and support those making the unique transition(s) from the caring role required of carers for those with mental health difficulties.
Finally, it will fund counselling or life coaching sessions to former carers who would most benefit from the services in preparing for the life after care.