Family Carers Must Not Fall Through the Cracks as HSE Redeploys 750 Home Care Workers

Individual assessment needed for each family carer

As the news emerges that 750 home care workers are to be redeployed to nursing and residential care homes to fill the frontline gaps caused by outbreaks of coronavirus, Family Carers Ireland wishes to reassure family carers that whilst they may lose home care support, they will not be forgotten. Read more

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Petmania to introduce ‘carry-to-car’ service to help maintain social distancing

This week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced emergency measures which will be in place across the country. All non-essential retailers are to close until at least Sunday, April 19th.

According to www.gov.ie, “retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding” may remain open. Petmania  would like to reassure its customers that it will remain open throughout the crisis and is now offering a carry-to-car-service to help customers get essential supplies safely and maintain social distancing. Simply call the local Petmania store to place your order the staff will deliver to the car and place them in the boot. Read more


Family Carers Ireland launch online ‘Carers Coffee Club’

 Social outlet, guidance and support during COVID-19

Family Carers Ireland has launched its ‘Carers’ Coffee Club’ an online resource for family carers to get together via Facebook Live. The ‘Club’ will have guest health care professionals and experts providing online support, advice and guidance to family carers during the pandemic. The organisation is inviting family carers and others to submit their questions online which the expert guests will address in the coming weeks. Read more


Family Carers Ireland has received a significant number of calls to its National Freephone Careline (1800 24 07 24) from family carers asking what might happen should they or their loved one contract the Covid-19 virus or be forced to self-isolate.

“Many of these family carers care for young children or adults with profound disability who may not be viewed as vulnerable to Covid-19 but are most vulnerable in terms of their care needs should their primary carer be forced to self-isolate or become hospitalised” stated Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Family Carers Ireland.

Given the unprecedented pressure on our hospitals due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation’s top priority is to support as many people as possible remaining in the care of their loved ones at home.  With this in mind, there is an urgent need for clear guidance for family carers on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in a home caring situation as well as a contingency plan with specific steps to follow in the event of the family carer becoming unable to continue caring.  The organisation has already developed and published an Emergency Care Guide to help prepare for such eventualities, and it is now urging the HSE to present a clear protocol on how the health service will deal with such cases.

As the number of those diagnosed increases and many of these will be sent home to manage their own recovery, we anticipate that an increase in demand for home support corresponding to the surge in hospital demand.  In order to prepare for this, current Home Support Packages are being reviewed and only cases requiring medical or personal care will be most likely continued.  Otherwise families will see a reduction, or in some cases, elimination of existing home care hours on the basis of the unprecedented community support being mobilized in the face of an unprecedented national challenge. Family Carers Ireland accepts the need for this in light of the unique challenge that the Covid-19 pandemic represents.  The organisation will be there to support those families and will work with other groups in the community such as An Garda Síochána, community groups and organisations to try to minimise the impact that this will have on caring families.

“We are all in this together and must show solidarity in these difficult times” said Ms Cox.

Another major concern for family carers is the risk posed by the shortage of personal protective equipment such as hand sanitiser gel and gloves, particularly for those providing intimate care to vulnerable children and adults. Family carers are also concerned that they may be unable to access products essential to their caring role such as medicines, incontinence pads, catheters, diet supplements, etc. as the situation worsens.

Family Carers Ireland is calling on Government to put a number of measures in place to protect Family Carers including: 

  1. Family carers should be named and recognised as a ‘vulnerable group’ by the Public Health Emergency Committee and a guidance document for family carers should be produced giving advice on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in caring situations, setting out protocols and steps to be taken should a family carer or their loved one display symptoms.
  2. Priority testing and verification where there is suspected case of Covid-19 within a family carers home.
  3. Clarification over the continuation of home support services in cases where a person in a household has Covid-19 or is in self-isolation.
  4. Contingency plans for when a family carer is diagnosed with Covid-19 or is in self-isolation.
  5. All family carers should have access to personal protective equipment including hand sanitiser, gloves and aprons and gowns where necessary and be given clear guidance on how to use them correctly.
  6. Covid-19 has forced the closure of many routine services family carers and their loved ones rely on including respite and day care services. Efforts should be made to provide in-home alternatives where practical.

Family Carers Ireland has received confirmation from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that family carers working up to 18.5 hours a week outside the home and in receipt of Carer’s Allowance can apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and will receive payment should they lose some or all of their hours due to the pandemic.

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting and advocating on behalf the 355,000 family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide and through our National Freephone Careline 1800 240724. If there are businesses or philanthropic organisations out there who would like to support family carers at this time please go to https://familycarers.ie/donate/



10 tips to motivate the kids and get active with your pet on National Puppy Day 

Today, March 23rd, is National Puppy Day! Time to lavish some extra love on the four legged family members. Countless studies have shown that dogs can help to elevate moods, reduce anxiety and stress, and help to manage our physical health too. Sadly a recent survey* has shown that 60 percent of dogs are overweight and 18 per cent of respondents admitted that their dog gets less than 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Petmania has compiled 10 fun ways to say thank you on National Puppy Day, to get moving with your pet, elevate our mood and beat the cabin fever blues. 

Walk the walk

Depending on the breed of your dog some pets need at least 40 minutes of exercise per day. Leash-up for on walk in a riverside or greenway – choose somewhere with plenty of space and go during quiet times. 

Play a game of classic fetch

An oldie but a goodie. Your dog will delight in chasing that ball down, bringing it back to you and relish in the “good dog” reward.

Set Up Obstacle Courses

Challenge your dog both mentally and physically with a DIY obstacle course. This can be indoor or outdoor. Make jumps, use a hula hoop, fashion a tunnel from a cardboard box, set out the furniture and get your dog to duck and weave between it.

Run Your Dog Up and Down the Stairs

Using the stairs is a great way to add an additional challenge to a dog’s workout. Stand at the top of the stairs, call your dog and throw a ball or toy back down to fetch.

Make Your Dog Work For its Treats

Get some of your dog’s favourite treats and hide them around the house – behind doors, under tables, underneath rugs and let him sniff them out! Treat toys also provide great stimulation both mentally and physically. Be careful to monitor their portion size, treats should make up no more that 10 percent of the dogs intake.

Cycle or Rollerblade

Introduce creative ways to get your daily walk. Take out your wheels and let your pet  alongside you, this can be a bike, scooter, rollerblades or motorised toy car.

Tug of War

There are lots of rope toy options available. This playful game will provide lots of active fun.

Blowing Bubbles

Dogs love chasing bubbles! Set the kids up with a bubble station – let them blow bubbles through the wand and delight in your dog’s attempt to hunt them down.

Play Frisbee 

Stand apart  by 3 meters or more and throw a frisbee to each other. Your puppy will love chasing it back and forth.

Teach Tricks

This is the perfect time to teach your furry friend some simple tricks like ‘roll over’, ‘give me the paw’ or ‘bow’. Visit Petmania’s YouTube for its recommended playlist.

Emily Miller from Petmania Ireland said,

“We hope you use this time at home to enhance your pets health and exercise regime. Animals are terrific companions, especially in uncertain times to boost our mood, get us active and most importantly offer unconditional love.” 



A Sligo based company, Dmac Media is the latest to offer its expertise in a bid to help the country’s frontline services meet the demands of the Covid 19 Pandemic.Dave McEvoy from Dmac Media noticed a big change in the business over the last few days. The website developers have received a significant number of requests from pharmacies and GP clients to update their websites to help cope with the unprecedented volume of calls and messages that they are experiencing in light of the current health risk. Read more


Survey shows obesity in dogs and cats is a growing epidemic

Top tips to control weight gain as survey shows 60 per cent of dogs and 40 per cent of cats are overweight

Obesity in dogs and cats is a growing epidemic with almost 60 per cent of dogs and 40 per cent of cats overweight according to a recent study*. This leads to reduced life expectancy and a litany of unhealthy conditions including heart disease and diabetes in animals.Petmania Ireland conducted a nationwide survey held throughout December and January which reveals worrying results:

  • 60 per cent of dogs and 40 per cent of cats are overweight
  • 43 per cent have not weighed their dog in the last three months, 53 per cent of cat owners have not weighed their cat in the same period.
  • Less than half (46 per cent) of the respondents knew what an ideal ‘Body Condition Score’ for their pet should be.
  • 28 per cent do not measure their dog’s meals and choose to free pour / 63 per cent free pour their cat’s food.
  • 36 per cent give treats because their cat begged /  39per cent give dog treats two or more times each day.
  • 18 per cent of respondents said their dog gets less than 30 minutes of exercise each day whilst pet owners observed that their cat spent most of their day sleeping and 4 per cent of dog-owners admit that their dog gets no exercise.
  • 58 per cent of dogs spend three-plus hours alone each day, while for cats this figure is 91 per cent
  • 28 per cent of dogs and 17per cent of cats share their owner’s bed
  • Encouragingly, 75% of dogs and 91% of cats have been neutered

Committed to helping pet-parents manage their pet’s diet throughout their life-stages and form long-term #HealthierHabits, the number one thing Petmania recommends is that dog and cat owners weigh their animal at least every three months. This way they know when a weight problem emerges and can address it quickly with some simple practical tips for example:

Tips to manage cat’s health and diet:

  1. Choosing the right food for your cat’s life stages is the first step to preventing obesity. Measure the portion sizes and remember that treats can significantly add to your cats calorie intake.
  2. Outdoor cats tend to be more active but you can encourage indoor-cats natural instincts by using toys, tunnels and climbing posts.
  3. Introduce ‘play-time’: 10 to 15 short bursts of interaction with your cat each day will keep them fit and active.
  4.  Position your cat’s food and water trays away from each other to encourage them to move around more.

Tips to manage dog’s health and diet:

  1. Choosing a ‘complete food’ ensures that all of the basic nutritional content for your dog will be included. It is recommended to use a digital scales to measure your dog’s meals to ensure you are not over feeding.
  2. Exercise requirements will naturally change over the lifetime of the dog, it is encouraged to be a little creative when choosing an exercise regime for example play Tug-of-War, cycle or rollerblade with your dog on a lead, do some agility training which is available in most towns. See Petmania’s free OT booklet for dog’s exercise needs.
  3. Treats should make up no more that 10 percent of the dogs intake.
  4. If competition for food is an issue in your home adjusting your feeding regime may reduce over-eating or introduce a puzzle feeder to prolong the feeding process plus it offers great mental stimulation too.

Emily Miller of Petmania said,

“Petmania offers regular free weight-checks in store and this is the easiest way to track and maintain the animals health. For the rest of March we are running Operation TransPAWmation to help pet owners understand how to manage the health of their four-legged family members. We hope people will pop in with their cats and dogs to get a free weight check and speak to our pet experts.”

Petmania is inviting pet owners to take part in Operation TransPAWmation for free in one of its 12 stores nationwide. Pet owners can bring their dog or cat to Petmania for a free weight check and body condition score check. Throughout the campaign the pet retailer are giving participants free booklets containing a food diary, exercise hints, tips and exclusive discounts. Each animal that takes part will automatically go into a draw to win a three month’s supply of food from Royal Canin. For full survey results and more information visit: petmania.ie |  #Petmania­OT | #HealthierHabits |royalcanin.co.uk



Family Carers Ireland call on Micheál Martin to make its GE2020 ‘asks’ a red line issue in Government formation talks

Family Carers Ireland welcomed TD and Leader of the Fianna Fáil party, Micheál Martin, to its annual ‘National Respite Weekend’ at The Clayton Hotel Cork City on Saturday 7th March. The Leader took time to meet with family carers, hear their stories and delivered a pre-dinner address at the event.

The charity took the opportunity to call on Micheál Martin to make Family Carers Ireland’s GE2020 Manifesto ‘asks’ a red line issue in formation talks for the next Government, particularly to give full-time family carers a right to 20 days respite each year in line with statutory leave available to paid workers. According to the organisation, a minimum entitlement to 20 days guaranteed respite each year should be enshrined in the impending statutory homecare legislation in line with the statutory leave available to paid workers.

One in 10 people in Ireland is a family carer with many providing round-the-clock care to a loved one without pay, with limited support and little or no access to a break. Without the €10 billion in unpaid care they provide each year, the Irish health service would crumble. Despite the enormity of their contribution, a recent study* shows that access to respite for family carers has worsened over the last decade. Seven in 10 family carers in 2009 said they had no access to respite, compared to four in ten in 2009.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland said, “Family Carers Ireland welcomes Micheál Martin to the ‘National Respite Weekend’ a vitally important time for family carers to recharge their batteries and meet with people in similar situations. We are heartened by his show of support for family carers and want to reiterate to all political parties that they must recognise the essential role that family carers play in sustaining the national health system.  No one can run on empty, yet this group of vulnerable people are consistently being asked to keep going without a break. Paid workers get breaks, weekends off and 20 days of statutory leave entitlement for their 38 hours per week yet family carers, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care per week and many more care 24/7 for their loved ones get next to nothing. This must be addressed in the next Government.”

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 355,000 family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide. For more information see www.familycarers.ie or contact a local resource centre.

*Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring study shows that: 


  • 83 per cent  of carers’ loved ones have no access to suitable respite
  • 82 per cent of carers provide more than 50 hours of care per week
  • 61 per cent of carers provide more than 100+ hours of care per week
  • 67 per cent of carers reported they suffered with physical ill health
  • 48 per cent of carers said they were diagnosed with mental ill health
  • 68 per cent of carers felt that their health had suffered as a result of caring
  • 40 per cent thought their health would be improved with more access to respite


Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring was produced by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.






“Mrs Deegan – President Putin will be seated to your right”


Nearly 25 years ago Dubliner Debbie Deegan and her family opened their home to two Russian orphan girls for a month in the summer. It was to change her life. They visited her house. She went to visit their orphanage. What she saw was heartbreaking and she was determined to improve their lot.

She quit her job in the fashion world of Mirror Mirror and set about changing the conditions of the orphanages that had been home to the two very neglected little girls. What began as a whip around at a coffee morning led to the setting up of a charity and a promise to improve the lives of the children she met. Over the years  the charity she founded, To Russia With Love,(renamed To Children with Love in 2015), has brought structure, education, ambition, care and love to  the lives of over 5,000 children. Her lobbying of the Russian authorities has transformed how children in state care are treated in Russia. The story is told in her 2012 book, “To Russia With Love,” written with Emily Hourican and published by Mercier Press.

In 2019 Debbie was awarded the Order of Friendship which is the highest honour that can be given to a foreigner in Russia. It was  presented personally by the President. Hence her meeting with Putin.

Last year she came to the attention of Ted Talks and was invited to present her story in Kingston Upon Thames this January. The resulting talk “Mrs Deegan – President Putin will be seated to your right,” is in turn motivational, heartwarming, provocative and amusing. She recounts, as only Debbie can, the range of emotions on learning that she was to spend two hours with the President.

After a career in retail fashion and the charity sector Debbie is now using her unique experience in overcoming challenges and leading teams in her new career, inspirational speaker. She has been doing it for 25 years now.



Exclusive rooftop occasion photographs in the heart of the city

Confirmations and Communions at Pembroke Kilkenny

Pembroke Kilkenny has designed very special celebrations for families who are looking forward to a Confirmation or Communion this spring.  The city’s premier boutique venue, is inviting families to celebrate the special day at Pembroke Kilkenny.With its fantastic city centre location, Statham’s can tailor a get-together to suit the individual needs of each family from a low-key casual gathering with finger food and drinks to a more leisurely afternoon including a delicious four-course meal featuring the very best locally sourced ingredients from the country’s fine artisan producers including Breagagh Valley, Highbank Orchard, Kell’s Wholemeal and Macroom Buffalo.

 Create everlasting memories with a stunning roof-top cityscape against the breath-taking backdrop of Kilkenny Castle. Pembroke Kilkenny offers its guests exclusive access to its famous rooftop to take those all-important family photographs.

The recently refurbished event’s room offers comfort and luxury in a modern, stylish and cosy setting, a fantastic party venue in the city centre. Not forgetting who’s day it is, the hotel has smart TVs and a choice of games to entertain the younger ones while the adults relax and enjoy the occasion.

Paul Broderick, General Manager of Pembroke Kilkenny said, “Communions and Confirmations are a once in a lifetime event in a young person’s life and a special occasion for the extended family. However you choose to celebrate this special event our dedicated team is here to help. If you want something low-key and private or a big family celebration, at Pembroke Kilkenny we have you covered! Our team is happy to arrange your day just the way you want it. Don’t forget to take in the spectacular view across the city, Castle Yard and majestic Kilkenny Castle from our rooftop. We are thrilled to offer this scenic space exclusively to our guests.”

The Pembroke Kilkenny team love creating unforgettable celebrations and look forward to helping to make happy memories for families across Kilkenny this spring. For more visit: pembrokekilkenny.com