Family Carers Ireland express concern as emerging figures show provision of respite care is on a steady decrease
Figures released to Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly (see below) regarding the provision of respite care to family carers across Ireland have caused major concern for national advocacy group Family Carers Ireland.
The data shows that 1,741 fewer respite care sessions, both overnight and day sessions, were provided in the first three months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, despite the fact that there is a greater demand for the vital support. This resulted in a total loss of 1,588 overnight sessions and 153 day sessions for family carers.
‘Carers in Crisis’, a special episode of RTE Primetime which was broadcast in December 2017 with Family Carers Ireland depicted the very difficult lives of five family carers. At the time of filming, all of family carers who shared their stories publicly were struggling due to the lack of in-home services and supports and in particular respite provision. These five families represented the stories of thousands of family carers across Ireland who are in similar crisis.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris promised improved and increased provision of respite care, but Family Carers Ireland say that the Government’s response was quick but totally inadequate.
“Family Carers Ireland are appalled and bitterly disappointed to receive confirmation that figures for respite care for the first quarter of 2018 have decreased when compared to 2017. This is despite there being a greater demand for this vital support,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland.
“These cuts are in addition to the respite care cuts of 15,000 in 2017. Family Carers save the state €10 billion each year, supporting their loved ones to remain at home but they cannot do it alone. There is an urgent need for respite provision which is flexible to meet the needs of each individual family situation.”
Catherine Cox added:
“Respite is fragmented, inconsistent and in some counties non-existent due to the current post code lottery that exists. Emerging figures also show that the South of Ireland and rural areas have taken the biggest hit. This is evident in these figures which sees an area like Carlow and Kilkenny experience cuts of more than 50 percent.
“Today one in 10 people are required to provide care for a loved one at home. By 2030 this will be one in five. Unless there is an urgent investment in homecare and respite many family carers will be forced to down tools which will result in far higher costs of care on the state.
“Family Carers Ireland insist that the Minister addresses this crisis in homecare in the upcoming budget and recognise the contribution of Ireland’s 355,000 family carers.
“These figures are unacceptable when the majority of family carers individually provide 45 hours and over of unpaid care to a loved one each week. The impact financially, socially and in terms of their own physical and mental health can be immense. Respite care is an essential resource for carers.”
Family Carers Ireland provides a range of supports and services for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide and advocates fairness for carers.