Family carers must be considered frontline workers in roll-out of vaccine

Pictured:  Mary Doran, Tipp carer of the year 2019 and carer for Mum Leishe

95% of older people live in private households

Following reports that the Government is aiming to have 70,000 residents and staff in 589 long-term care facilities vaccinated by 24 January, Family Carers Ireland continue to reiterate the urgency and importance of including  family carers as a priority groups in plans to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine.

Family carers continue to care for their loved-ones, around the clock, to ensure that loved ones stayed safe at home and out of hospital. They have played a hugely significant role in lessening the spread of Covid-19 and supporting the Irish healthcare system and must be considered the same as frontline workers.

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 also contacted the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly to seek clarity as to where family carers sit currently in the roll-out of the vaccine.  It 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:

“Older people and frontline care workers in nursing homes and care facilities have rightly been prioritised for the COVID vaccine. However, less than 5% of older people reside in these settings, with just under 95% enumerated as living in private households in Census 2016. By targeting the paid care work provided to older people in nursing homes, we are failing to reach the vast majority of carers who provide unpaid care within the home. Family Carers Ireland is calling for equal treatment in the administration of the vaccine between carers who are paid and those who are not.”

 She continues,

“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. Whilst some family carers will fall under the categories outlined for priority due to their age or own health conditions, many will not. Protecting the vulnerable is about more than protecting the vulnerable person, but is also about protecting the support infrastructure that surrounds them. Who will care for the ‘vulnerable’ but vaccinated person if their family carer tests positive and has to self-isolate or be admitted to hospital?”

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The next few weeks will be difficult for our feathered friends in the garden. Ireland is rich in wildlife, and our robins, sparrows, thrushes, blackbirds and many more need a helping hand through the coldest months. They use up a lot of energy gathering food in the cold weather and they need exactly what we have been having at Christmas … lots of calories. The extra energy at this time of the year will greatly increase their chances of making it through the winter.

There are a lot of very effective nesting boxes available and these should be positioned carefully away from predators. Likewise a feeding table. Fruit and peanuts (unsalted) are fine for garden birds. Place the feeders out of reach of cats.

“But the real high calorie treats are the fat and suet balls and energy rich seeds and grains. Nyjer and sunflower seeds are ideal. Be careful with dried foods as they may swell after eating. Avoid salty crisps, and sadly bread has virtually no nutritional value for birds. Be careful that the food you provide is not dangerous for your dog or cat. Sultanas and raisins for example are toxic for dogs. Leave out clean water and make sure it is not frozen and, once again,  well out of reach of the cat,” said Emily Miller of Petmania

Caring for your garden creatures can be extremely rewarding, surprising and even addictive. And there is an ecological bonus. Encouraging wildlife into your garden can have a really positive impact on both your garden’s eco system and the natural pest control it provides.

To arrange an interview with Emily Miller please contact John Masterson on 086 2448692 or


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