The National Carers’ Strategy was published in July 2012. It entailed a commitment by Government to support family carers. It sets out the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government departments and agencies for carers. The Strategy contains a roadmap for implementation of its objectives, outlining recommended actions, timelines for achievement of objectives and the government departments with responsibility for each action.
The strategy, which can be viewed here, contains 42 actions, each aimed at improving the position of family carers in Ireland, and ensuring they are recognised, supported and empowered both in their caring role and in their social and personal lives.
As part of the strategy, Government departments committed to producing an annual progress report. The Carers Association (now Family Carers Ireland) assembled a National Carers’ Strategy Monitoring Group, made up of family carers, Carers Association staff with a range of expertise, and included representation from Care Alliance. Since early 2014, the Monitoring Group has met and carefully assessed Government’s reported progress (as expressed in a series of progress reportss) against the stated goals, objectives and actions named in the National Carers’ Strategy. The key question the group asked itself again and again was whether there had been any identifiable impact on family carers’ lives. The group produced a scorecard report, assigning colour-coded scores to each of the actions contained within the strategy.
The following are the progress reports produced by Government:
Fifth Progress Report (Jan 2017 – Dec 2017)
Fourth Progress report (Sept 2015 – Dec 2016)
Third Progress report (Sept 2014 – Sept 2015)
Second Progress report (Sept 2013 – Sept 2014)
First Annual Progress report (Sept 2012 – Sept 2013)
The following are the scorecards produced by the National Carers’ Strategy Monitoring Group:
Fifth NCS Family Carers’ Scorecard: Full Report (2018)
Fourth NCS Family Carers’ Scorecard: Full Report (2017, 2nd version updated January 2018)
Third NCS Family Carers’ Scorecard: Full Report (2016)
Second NCS Family Carers’ Scorecard: Full Report (2015)
(The first scorecard was not published; the second accordingly responded to the first two Government progress reports)
The strategy was published in a time of austerity and it was understood that implementations of its actions within the term of the last Government would be on a cost-neutral basis. What has been achieved by the strategy represents the first steps toward securing fair and equitable treatment of and support for family carers in Ireland.
Response to and engagement with the strategy from Government departments has been positive. With signs of real economic recovery emerging, including the tax take considerably exceeding estimates, a rise in employment and further projected growth, Family Carers Ireland is calling now for renewal of the strategy and for the allocation of the funding and resources necessary for the full implementation of the strategy’s objectives.