Family Carers Ireland will host its annual National Respite Weekend at The Clayton Hotel Cork City from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March. The organisation is taking this opportunity to call on the next Government to give full-time family carers a right to 20 days respite each year. Lord Mayor Cllr. John Sheehan will give a welcoming address to the group of family carers on Friday evening at 7pm.
One in 10 people in Ireland is a family carer with many providing round-the-clock care to a loved one without pay, with limited support and little or no access to a break. Without the €10 billion in unpaid care they provide each year, the Irish health service would crumble. Despite the enormity of their contribution, a recent study* shows that access to respite for family carers has worsened over the last decade. Seven in 10 family carers in 2009 said they had no access to respite, compared to four in ten in 2009.
Respite care is consistently identified as a key intervention to support the health and wellbeing of family carers and is critical to the sustainability of their caregiving efforts. Despite its importance, access to respite care remains discretionary, inconsistent and underfunded. According to the charity, a minimum entitlement to 20 days guaranteed respite each year should be enshrined in the impending statutory homecare legislation in line with the statutory leave available to paid workers.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland said,
“It is vitally important that family carers get a chance to recharge their batteries and take some well-earned time out from the demands of caring. No one can run on empty, yet this group of vulnerable people are consistently being asked to keep going without a break. In employment the concept of burn-out is well-known and provided for. Workers get breaks, reasonable rest hours and 20 days of statutory leave entitlement for their 38 hours per week yet family carers, who contribute so much to the economy and the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care per week, get next to nothing.”
Ms. Cox went on to say:
“All of the political parties have agreed in principle to introduce these measures. The next Government must recognise the essential role that family carers play in sustaining the national health system and become their champion. Family Carers Ireland is urging them to remember Ireland’s 355,000 family carers in talks leading up to and upon formation of the next Government.”
Family Carers Ireland’s ‘National Respite Weekend’ will include a range of activities to help and support family carers including mindfulness, massage, yoga, excursions and information on their rights and entitlements as family carers. It gives family carers a chance to relax with others who fully understand the spectrum of demands and sacrifice that they make each day to care for their loved ones.
Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 355,000 family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide. For more information see www.familycarers.ie or contact a local resource centre.
Notes for the editor:
*Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring study shows that:
- 83 per cent of carers’ loved ones have no access to suitable respite
- 82 per cent of carers provide more than 50 hours of care per week
- 61 per cent of carers provide more than 100+ hours of care per week
- 67 per cent of carers reported they suffered with physical ill health
- 48 per cent of carers said they were diagnosed with mental ill health
- 68 per cent of carers felt that their health had suffered as a result of caring
- 40 per cent thought their health would be improved with more access to respite
Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring was produced by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.