Amidst growing tensions between Government parties over water charges, The Carers Association is urging for clarity on the level of water charges family carers will be expected to pay and reassurance that there will be water affordability strategies in place for one of Ireland’s most vulnerable sectors.

For Ireland’s 187,112 family carers, the home is ‘a centre of care’ where vital and for the most part, unpaid services to Ireland’s health systems are contributed. Support for households where someone has a long term medical condition is essential in the roll out of water charges as such households have water needs far greater than the average household. Water affordability strategies for households with high levels of care are essential. Care in the home must be supported not penalized.

“Family carers all over Ireland are managing complex medical procedures within their homes such as dialysis and peg feeding every day. They are running essential medical devices such as nebulisers, ventilators and dialysis machines which bring with them substantial water usage in terms of their running and cleaning. Personal care, incontinence, intimate care, as well as best practice in terms of hand washing and the sanitation of health care equipment also require significantly greater water usage. Conditions such as incontinence care require regular laundry and showering” says Catherine Cox, Head of Communications with The Carers Association.

“We are urgently calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Phil Hogan to follow through on their commitment that there will be clarity on water charges for family carers before the local elections take place on May 23rd. Family carers have been severely impacted by consistent cuts to vital supports and services with the most recent affecting housing adaptation and mobility grants and we want assurance that family carers will receive a free medical allowance to reflect their increased water needs.”

Local Authorities will continue to play a role in water services until Irish Water is fully established in 2019. On May 23rd, the people of Ireland will elect 949 councilors to local Government and with reforms set to increase the power of local authorities, the role of Government at this level will play a critical role in ensuring family carers have the resources, services and supports necessary to care with confidence in the home. The Carers Association are calling on Government and local election candidates to:

  • Ensure that water affordability strategies are put in place to support vulnerable households, through the allocation of free water allowances, bill capping, budgeting tools and pre termination polices and exemptions.
  • Allocation of a special free medical allowance, which will reflect the increased essential water needs of caring households.

Ireland’s 187,112 family carers contribute €11 million per day, providing 900,000 hours of care daily and save the state €4 billion each year.  Over 21 percent of family carers provide over 43 hours of unpaid for care per week.