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.

The organisation understands the rationale behind the move by the HSE in light of the current Covid-19 crisis. It is urging the State to consider each case carefully before removing homecare support. Whilst the redeployment is targeted at priority three and four packages of support where personal and clinical support is not required and a family network support is available, Family Carers Ireland is nonetheless concerned that some families will lose much-needed support.

In some cases, family carers have made the decision themselves to suspend their home care support in order to offer the best protection for their family and loved-ones. However the organisation has come across instances where support has been withdrawn without taking into account the full implications. One such example is a case where a 71 year old woman is caring for her 98 year old Mother and their service was withdrawn as there appeared to be wider family support available. However as both the carer and cared for person are over 70, they have been advised to cocoon. On top of this, members of the wider family network are frontline health care workers and cannot help with the care of their relatives. This highlights the need for individual assessment of a family carer and their loved one’s needs before any withdrawal of hours.

Family Carers Ireland would like to reassure family carers that the organisation will continue to offer its support during this time of greater need and ensure that family carers do not fall between the cracks.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland said,

“While we understand the necessity for redeployment of homecare hours, we need to ensure this is done fairly and takes into account the needs of the entire family. Family Carers Ireland wants to reassure family carers that they are not on their own. We are here to support them and we have a network of experts, health care professionals and community response teams ready to assist them. If any family carer is struggling, they can call our freephone Careline 1800 240724. We will advocate for support on their behalf and together we’ll get through this time of great uncertainty.”

Family Carers Ireland have provisions in place and can liaise with other national bodies to deliver services to vulnerable family carers through online supports and services. Advice is available via its freephone Careline 1800 240724 and via an online ‘Carers’ Coffee Club’ on the charity’s Facebook page each Thursday at 11am offering expert advice during the COVID-19 crisis from some of the county’s top health experts. Our Emergency Care plan booklet is also available to download from our website www.familycarers.ie

We continue to ask for the following measures to be put in place as a matter of urgency:

  1. Family carers to be named and recognised as a ‘vulnerable group’ by the Public Health Emergency Committee and a guidance document for family carers to 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. Contingency plans for when a family carer is diagnosed with Covid-19 or is in self-isolation.
  4. 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 need to be made to provide in-home alternatives where practical.

See www.familycarers.ie for more