“Government must recognise, respect and respond to the needs of Family Carers” says The Carers Association

Ireland’s Unseen Workforce save the state € 4 billion every year

The Carers Association today launches its Pre-Budget Submission 2015, which once again, urges Government to recognise the home as a vital centre of care. The submission titled ‘Make Home Work’ calls on Government to ensure that Family Carers have the resources, services and supports necessary to care with confidence and safety in the home.

2014 has seen Family Carers across the country hit with changes to the Housing Adaptation Grant for people with a disability as well as cuts to the Housing Aid for Older People and the Mobility Aid grants. Now they are facing further hardship through increased household charges and lack of resources on the ground.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications with The Carers Association explains “At a time when there are already huge demands on Family Carers, such cuts are devastating for the 187,000 people who are a part of Ireland’s unseen workforce. Our Pre-Budget Submission outlines to Government a number of recommendations that will recognise, respect and respond to the needs of Family Carers in the most practical of terms.”

“While The Carers Association has welcomed Government’s shift in policy from institutional/hospital care to care in the community and in the home, this transfer cannot be achieved by simply dumping the responsibility of care onto the shoulders of family carers without proper “transfer of care” protocols. In the absence of a statutory entitlement to home care services the basic supports necessary to sustain people with high dependency care needs in the home must be provided prior to the movement of a patient from a hospital or institutional care to their homes.  Family Carers have played their part in facilitating this shift in policy and we are calling on the Irish Government to do the same.  The bridge between the rhetoric and reality must be crossed to ensure one of Ireland’s must vulnerable section of society are afforded the necessary supports and entitlements.”

Family Carer Catherine Howe will speak at the launch about her role as a carer for her husband who has bi-polar disorder and about the impact that the lack of resources, supports and services has on their daily lives.

The Carers Association’s Pre-Budget Submission 2015, titled ‘Make Home Work’, presents a range of practical recommendations that would support Family Carers and their needs.  ‘Make Home Work’ calls on Government to –

  • Acknowledge Family Carers as an exceptional group within the Department of Social Protection
  • Legislate to ensure a statutory entitlement to homecare community services
  •  Provide adequate supports for carers caring for those with mental health illness
  • Restore the unfair cuts applied to vital Social Protection supports such as the Respite Care Grant and Household Benefits Package.
  • Ensure that the € 100 water allowance applies to all full-time Carers regardless of whether they are in receipt of the household benefit package.
  • Extend local property tax exemptions to include households where high level care is provided.
  • Provide contributory state pension entitlement for lifetime Family Carers.
  • Ensure Implementation of the National Carers Strategy

This is the first time in many years that The Carers Association will not present their submission in The Oireachtas AudioVisual Room of the Dáil following changes last year that now prevents  access to civil and voluntary groups.  The Association and family carers feel aggrieved at this move as we believe that the on-site briefing facility of the AV room at Leinster House was a civil society space that should have been preserved and protected.

Ireland’s family carers contribute €77 million per week, providing 900,000 hours of care daily to the ill, frail and people with disabilities. This is the equivalent to one third of the total annual cost of the HSE (€13.3 billion) and is five times what family carers cost the Department of Social Protection in income support (€878 million). Full time Family carers contribute on average €72,500 a year.