Irish Family Carers Save The State €4 Billion Yearly By Annette J Dunlea
Published In The Carrigdhoun Newspaper 21st July 2012 p.11
Carers are people who look after the physical and mental well-being of somebody with a disability or who is aged.Using data from the 2006 census, it is estimated that carers were contributing 3.7 million hours of care a week. It estimates that carers now save the State €4 billion a year.What do carers do? Meal preparation, diet and eating monitoring, shopping, arrange appointments, hovering, care for pets, conversation, accompany on social outings and some light housework.They are responsible for:incontinence care, dressing, washing, bathing, assistance with mobility, medical reminders, skin care, personal grooming, daily activities, social outings.The role of the carer is to make sure that a routine is kept and that a safe environment is maintained at all times.For a private person outside the family to come in and do home-help it costs €16 per hour, it rises to €20 for personal care to aid with washing, dressing and mobility and for Alzheimers care it is €23 per hour.One carer stated in confidence it meant giving your time to help another at any time of the day or night even when you don't feel like doing it.Having the patience of Job even when you are screaming inside with frustration.Always being cheerful and happy on the outside so as not to upset the apple cart even though you feel like throwing your hands up in despair.Never being able to speak freely about your caring role to anyone without appearing to be a whinger, or at least feeling like you are.Carrying on regardless, even when you have the flu with, no sick pay or time off.Never being able to go anywhere, and stay out for more than two hours.Receiving a morsel in the way of carer benefits and having big bills and money worries and live in fear of cuts.Having to accept that the person you are caring for will never really understand exactly what you do for them. Losing social contact with many of your friends who just don't come around anymore, possibly because you find it hard to find the time to go to their place or maybe because they feel uncomfortable around illness.Feeling like every day is starting before the previous one has finished. Convincing family members that it is alright for you to have a short nap between toilet duties in the afternoon without them feeling that they simply must wake you up.Losing confidence in your ability to carry out useful paid work if your caring duties should suddenly be ended and you have to go back to work. Watching someone you love deteriorate before your eyes but still having to cheer them up regardless of how you feel.Losing patience and then feeling guilty about it.It is an incredibly hard job, made more difficult by the cut backs in benefits and services.Frustration at constantly fighting for their little bit of home help or benefits.Family carers need an increase in payments not a cut and better community services.
Family carers are often invisible, under the radar, even though their numbers are increasing all the time. Yet despite the growing number of people who care for their parents, spouses, children and other family members, fewer resources have been available to support them since the cuts in public spending.This year alone the HSE’s National Service Plan, which aims to save €750 million, includes 500,000 fewer hours of home help, a vital service for many carers. Other planned cuts include the closure of up to 900 public nursing-home beds. By the end of this year, 630 private beds from the Fair Deal nursing-home scheme, which helps provide affordable private nursing-home care, will also have been cut.“A third of carers are older people, so emigration of family members is placing an additional burden on these people. It’s another layer of support going out of the network and makes life harder for them,” says Eamon Timmins of Age Action Ireland.Keeping people, particularly older people, at home as long as possible and out of institutions is agreed to be the best model of care. It also saves the State a considerable sum of money.
But who cares for the carers?There are no assessments done on the needs of the carer.Many speak of the social isolation and exhaustion.The caring role makes many demands on the carer, it is therefore extremely important to look after their own physical and emotional health.If it is possible, continue with activities one enjoys outside the home as it is important to follow their own interests outside their caring role.If they are finding it difficult to get out, talk to other family members, your local carers resource centre manager, your public health nurse or family doctor.It’s easy to become isolated when you are a carer. You may become too busy to keep up with friends and family, people may visit you less and thus loneliness often becomes the worst part of being a carer. Sometimes just talking to someone who understands what you are going through can be a great help. Your local carers resource centre and support groups can put you in touch with other people who share similar experiences.By taking time for regular exercise this will help you feel more energetic and provide a break from your daily activities. Always try to have healthy and regular meals. It is not always easy to do but in the long term it is important for your health and well being. Tiredness and exhaustion can often add to the stresses of caring it is vital to get enough sleep and rest.Getting in the habit of making time for yourself as a regular part of the day is important. Don’t feel guilty about this time as it is for you. Breaks can be taken in your home or away from it. They might be for hours, a day or a week. You can use this time to sleep, do shopping, have a holiday yourself or just to “do nothing” , a luxury that carers rarely if ever enjoy.Respite Care is provided by many different organisations and is depending on the age and condition of the person being cared for as well as the location where you live.For more information on Cork's carer's resource centre contact: Peter Cox,Centre Manager,The Carers Association,9 Tuckey Street, Cork.You can telephone: 021-4806397,Fax: 021 4806398 or email him at email@example.com.The Carers association help by: empowering carers by giving independent information which helps them know about and obtain their rights and entitlements;supporting carers who are experiencing difficulties by helping them find the best possible solution to their situation. Write letters or make phone calls on their behalf. Accompany them to meetings or speak on their behalf.They give carers a collective voice through local carer support groups.
To receive home help,a person being cared for must be over 65 and have a level of dependency. “The most common problems carers have is that many services are aimed at under 18s and over 65s,” says Catherine Cox of the Carers Association. “In between those ages, the services are very inconsistent.”The maximum home help a carer can usually expect to receive is one hour five days a week. The help does not officially include nursing or medical aid; it is meant only to aid with shopping, laundry and light housework, although many home helps unofficially assist with tasks showering, dressing, feeding and other tasks.Caring for a loved one is difficult at the best of times, but reduced services, economic insecurity and an ageing population have made life tougher for people minding elderly or disabled relatives.The main payment for family carers is the carers’ allowance €204 a week if the carer is under 66 and €239 if over. According to Cox, only a third of full-time carers receive this allowance, as it is means-tested.Some carers only receive half payment if they are in receipt of a state pension as well.They work 365 days a year 24 hours a day.The reduction in home-help hours is just one additional challenge facing family carers. For more information on the carers benefit contact The Department of Social Protection,Carer's Allowance Section,Social Welfare Services Office,Government Buildings Ballinalee Road,Longford,Ireland.Telephone them at (043) 334 0000 or Locall:1890 92 77 70 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Carers can also contact Careline + 353 65 6866515.Careline is a dedicated phoneline for family carers from any part of Ireland seeking help, support or a listening ear on family carer issues.The recession and the consequent number of people leaving the country to look for work elsewhere have had a very specific knock-on effect for some families.The survey also looked at the impact of caring on the life of the carer, by using a “strain index” score. Two thirds of those surveyed reported that their own lives had been affected by their responsibilities. Disturbed sleep, coping with distressing behaviour, financial strain, and an adverse effect on their own mental and physical health were among the problems carers reported as a result of caring for a family member. More than a third of those surveyed admitted “feeling completely overwhelmed by their caring responsibilities”.
The Carers Association is Ireland's national charity for and of family carers in the home.Their mission is to provide family carers with emotional and practical supports; to promote the interests of family carers and those receiving care in the home through effective partnership, lobbying and advocacy and to gain recognition and social justice for carers invaluable contribution to Irish society.They reach Family Carers through their freefone National Care Line 1800-24-07-24 and drop-in Resource Centres in North Dublin (Blanchardstown), South Dublin (Harold's Cross), Clonmel, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick, Mullingar, Sligo, Tullamore, Tralee, Waterford and Wexford and Outreach Service Projects in Clondalkin, Kildare, North Tipperary, Mayo, Laois, Roscommon, and Wicklow co-ordinated by a national office in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland