Family Carers save the state €4 billion; want commitments from next Government

Family Carers Ireland have launched their Pre-Election 2016 Campaign appealing to politicians to include carers in their list of priorities for the new Government. The campaign, titled ‘Election 2016: Achieving Fairness for Family Carers’ highlights that with the number of family carers on the rise, more must be done to support their unpaid work and contribution to society.

Family Carers save the state €4 billion; want commitments from next GovernmentIreland’s almost 200,000 family carers provide 6,287,510 hours of unpaid care each week. This work saves the state €4 billion each year and yet, despite the enormity of this contribution, family carers are struggling. Each year vital respite, home, day and residential care services are reduced as a result of a €2.7 billion cut in health and social care spending since 2009. While efforts have been made to reverse some of these cuts imposed during the economic crisis, with Ireland’s economy now in recovery Family Carers Ireland are calling on the elected Government to prioritise family carers.

“Family Carers are one of Ireland’s greatest national resources. Their work saves the state four billion euro each year. Despite this contribution, many carers find it more and more difficult to get respite and access services. Isolation, financial hardship, depression, stress, poor health and exclusion from paid work remain hallmarks of many carers’ lives” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications, Family Carers Ireland, speaking at the launch.

“With an ageing population, care in the home is one of the biggest health service issues facing the incoming Government. We are asking politicians to commit to investing in and implementing real supports for family carers that fit with the realities of caring in Ireland today.”

Family Carers Ireland are asking candidates to make five key commitments for family carers:

  • Ensure family carers are not financially burdened due to their caring role
  • Create a more ‘carer friendly’ health service, eliminating red tape and delays
  • Invest in the future of young carers. With an estimated 56,118* young carers aged 10 to 17, many remain hidden from services due to fear, family loyalty, stigma, and not knowing where to get help. They need cross-departmental support and must be recognised as a vulnerable group.
  • Publish, fund and implement Phase 2 of the National Carers’ Strategy
  • Commit to supporting issues affecting family carers both nationally and locally. Family Carers Ireland call on election candidates to become ‘carers champions’ and provide a voice for family carers both locally and within national Government.

The launch heard presentations from family carer, Rosemary Kratschmar, and young carer, Jamie Mooney.

Rosemary Kratschmar, mum of four, cares for her son Sammy (23) who is a person with Down Syndrome. Rosemary has had many battles over the years for Sammy’s health and education entitlements and feels very strongly that all parents of children with special needs should have an automatic right to a Medical Card. Sammy will require care for life and Rosemary feels that the mental and physical health of family carers is of huge importance and something that requires support as so much depends on just one carer.

Young Carer of the Year, Jamie Mooney (19) has provided care since he was six years old for his mother, Sabrina, who has Epilepsy. Jamie, from Shankill, Co. Dublin, also has his own health issues and is being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He is asking Government to help support Ireland’s “hidden army” of young carers.

*A study commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs published in 2016 shows that 11.9 percent of 10-17 year olds surveyed (n= 11,870) said they provide regular unpaid personal help for a family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability. If extrapolated out to the national population this would mean that some 56,118 young people in the 10-17 year age group alone provide regular unpaid care.

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