[26.06.2019] Family Carers Ireland, the organisation who represent the 355,000 family carers in Ireland, have launched their pre-budget submission. The priorities outlined in ‘A Decade Lost’ are supported by research published in May 2019 which shows that the situation for family carers has severely declined in the past 10 years.
This research reflects the lack of support family carers are receiving despite Sláintecare’s core objective to shift the delivery of care towards care in the community and home. Family Carers Ireland see Budget 2020 as an opportunity for the Government to signal its commitment to carers and to deliver on the promises set out in a Programme for Partnership Government.
Notwithstanding calls from Family Carers Ireland for support, the past decade has seen:
- 70% increase in the number of carers diagnosed with depression
- 24% increase in carers reporting poor health
- 30% increase in those experiencing anxiety
- 65% increase in the number of carers who have no access to respite
- 71% of carers’ loved ones have no access to respite.*
Ireland’s health and social care system depends on family carers who save the state a conservatively estimated €10 billion in unpaid care annually. The health service would collapse without the huge contribution that family carers make. Family carers provide 15,868,500 hours of unpaid care each week. Many are housebound due to a lack of support, suffering from carer burnout or are unable to receive medical treatment for themselves due to a lack of replacement care for their loved one.
Family Carers Ireland have outlined five urgent priorities for Budget 2020:
- Reform the means test for Carer’s Allowance.
- Increase the hours a carer can work/study from 15 hours to 18.5 hours weekly.
- End the postcode lottery in homecare and carer supports.
- Replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant withdrawn in 2013.
- Extend the GP Visit Card to include carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Family Carers Ireland said:
“We are seeing an increase in family carers on the ground who are overworked and suffering from carer burnout. They desperately need support and services. Family Carers Ireland see our five priorities in this pre-budget submission as absolute necessities for family carers to continue providing care to their loved ones while keeping their own health in check. Currently, over two thirds of carers suffer with physical ill health and two in three carers feel that their health has suffered as a result of caring.”
Family Carers Ireland have made comprehensive proposals to coincide with each priority outlined in the submission. The ‘Carers Guarantee’ proposal is one of these which calls on the government for an additional €3.2m funding per annum which would allow family carers to access vital core supports locally including:
- Emergency Respite which could be accessed during major family events and to allow for medical treatment for the carer.
- Individual Support for families who are in distress or crisis.
- Training in basic care skills and specialised training in areas such as life limiting conditions, challenging behaviour and end of life.
- Networking events such as peer support meetings to allow carers to share their experiences and knowledge.
- Information & Advocacy services, providing advice and information on rights and entitlements alongside support with appeals.
Notes to the Editor:
*Figures taken from a new report titled ‘Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring’ which was conducted by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.