New report shows family carers expected to fill gaps in health and social care system, regardless of personal toll

“How can I keep doing this day after day? I’m so tired I feel like I’ll drive off the road… I’m afraid he will seriously hurt me. I need help for when he is aggressive—some sort of self-protection training.” – female, full-time carer for a child.

 Almost half of family carers regularly deal with abusive behaviour while a similar proportion say that no supports and services are available. These are just some of the findings of a new research report which examines family carers’ access to supports and services, how this can affect their health and the daily challenges they face including exposure to abusive behaviours.

Family Carers Ireland, in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, today launched a new report titled Paying the Price: The Hidden Impacts of Caring. This is the second in a series of Paying the Price* reports and follows a nationwide health and wellbeing survey completed by 1,102 current family carers between November 2018 and January 2019. The survey is a repeat wave of a similar survey undertaken in 2009 and allows researchers to track changes in the health, wellbeing and burden of carers ten years later.

The report, launched at Family Carers Ireland’s National Carers’ Conference in The Hilton, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 shows that:

  • 44% of carers surveyed regularly deal with abusive behaviour
  • 70% of carers experiencing abuse as part of their caring role said their loved one did not have access to suitable respite
  • 76% of care recipients did not receive any home support hours
  • 74% of care recipients requiring 100+ hours of care per week had no access to home support hours
  • 49% of carers said that no supports and services were available
  • 79% of carers supporting children with care needs found it difficult to make ends meet
  • 25% of carers could not access supports and services due to distance and/or transport issues
  • 43% of carers said that supports and services were not disability, condition and/or age appropriate

Reacting to the findings, Family Carers Ireland’s Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Catherine Cox said:

“This report shows the enormous price paid by the 355,000 family carers in Ireland who prop up the health system at great personal cost. Three quarters of care recipients did not receive any home support hours. The toll on the carers’ mental and physical health is enormous and it begs the question – how long can they continue without the supports that Family Carers Ireland has repeatedly demanded from Government?”

“Family carers save the State at least €10bn a year by caring for their loved ones at home. This study outlines the terrible price of this love.”

Key recommendations highlighted by Dr Nikki Dunne, Research Officer with Family Carers Ireland, include:

  • Recognise carers as victims of abuse – Further research and public discussion on the impact of physical and verbal abuse on family carers is key to recognising carers as victims of abuse and developing effective interventions to allow them to care safely.
  • Urgently address the homecare crisis and postcode lottery – Funding of €3.2 million per annum is required to support family carers and ensure that they are guaranteed access to a basket of supports and services regardless of where they live.
  • Address the transport needs of carers – Replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant Schemes, withdrawn in 2013, with the long awaited Transport Support Scheme and widen the criteria of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme to include people with intellectual or cognitive impairments.
  • Abolish the In Loco Parentis rule – Organisations involved in supporting children and families are united in their call to end the in loco parentis rule and the unfair restrictions it places on the families of Ireland’s most vulnerable children.
  • Introduce practical approaches to protecting carers at risk of harm – Train healthcare professionals to identify and support carers, offer carers training, provide emergency respite care services, involve all agencies who play a role in safeguarding adults and children.

Full report available on