“Carers are in Crisis”, say Family Carers Ireland

Organisation calls on Government to support key health service resource

Following an extended Prime Time Special on December 5th 2017, Family Carers Ireland responded with the launch of a new campaign designed to highlight the critical situation of many of Ireland’s family carers.  This campaign will run throughout 2018 and will shine a light on the current gap in public data and supports for family carers.

According to the organisation, carers don’t want praise or pity, they want proper support to enable them to continue propping up our struggling health service*.  They are angry at a system which exploits and sometimes abuses their family bonds and only pays lip service to their needs to care safely for their loved ones.

At present one in twenty of Ireland’s population is a family carer.  By 2030, demographic patterns predict that this ratio will have fallen to one in five. For many carers this is no more than a natural extension of their family responsibilities but international evidence is clear that the burden of care increases with time and without appropriate supports individuals slide from capability to coping to crisis.  After nearly ten years of public and hidden cuts too many individual carers in Ireland are in crisis. And the health system is in denial of this fact.

“This programme was heart-breaking. It reflected what we are seeing daily across the country. Thousands of family carers are living in crisis, urgently needing a break. Their own physical and mental health is suffering, and they can’t get respite, even emergency respite, when they can no longer provide care” said Catherine Cox, Family Carers Ireland.

“We have family carers contacting us all the time totally distraught and at their wits end. They need regular breaks to enable them to continue their caring role. We also have carers who care for children or adults with a range of needs and worry daily about what will happen to their loved ones when they can no longer care for them or are not around anymore. These parents want their children slowly introduced and transitioned to long-term care facilities and that option is just not there. They are frightened and this is having a huge negative impact on their own health and well-being.”

Family Carers Ireland is asking the Government to invest in homecare now. For too long homecare has been underfunded, inconsistent and inequitable, leaving families with little choice but to choose a ‘care home’ over ‘homecare’.

“Carers are in crisis and this needs to change now. They are expected to keep providing unsupported care regardless of the detrimental costs to their physical and mental well-being. This is not acceptable. It is pushing carers past breaking point.  We believe caring should be a shared responsibility – shared between families, communities and the state.” said Catherine Cox.

Family Carers Ireland provides a range of supports and services for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide and advocates fairness for carers.