Family Carers Ireland says it is extremely disappointing that family carers are not even mentioned in the government's designation of priority groups in plans to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine.
Family carers have played a hugely significant role in lessening the spread of Covid-19 and supporting the Irish healthcare system. When services were shut down or curtailed, family carers continued to care around the clock to ensure that loved ones stayed safe at home and out of hospital.
Family Carers Ireland has written to the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination requesting that family carers are included as a priority group for vaccination; and are part of the IPPOSI coalition seeking vaccination prioritisation. The organisation has pledged to continue to lobby strongly on this issue to ensure family carers are not forgotten yet again.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy with Family Carers Ireland, said:
“Whilst caring for loved ones in the home, most family carers, out of necessity, need to leave their home for essential supplies, to attend appointments, school and part time or full-time employment, which many combine with their caring role. We must offer this group the maximum protection for the vulnerable cared for person and for the family carer who may otherwise unwittingly bring the virus into the family home – jeopardising the cared for person and also their role as a care provider. Who will step in and provide care for their loved one if a family carer falls ill with Covid? Whilst some family carers will fall under the categories outlined for priority due to their age or own health conditions, many will not.”
Figures* published on Monday (07.12.2020) by the CSO from the Irish Health Survey 2019 estimate that one in eight people in Ireland aged over 15 is a family carer. Extrapolation to the national population estimates currently available suggests that some 516,594 people provide regular unpaid care. Previous estimates put this figure at 355,000. Based on these figures, it is now thought that family carers save the state €20bn annually.
*CSO - Irish Health Survey 2019: https://www.cso.ie/en/csolatestnews/pressreleases/2020pressreleases/pressstatementirishhealthsurvey2019-carersandsocialsupports/