IT Carlow awarded €1million funding to support family carers across Ireland

Institute of Technology Carlow has been awarded a special €1million fund for the development and nationwide delivery of a Certificate in Family Caring in partnership with Family Carers Ireland (FCI) in recognition of the programme’s support for carers.

Developed in 2018 and delivered in nine different regions in 2019/2020, the certificate programme has provided family carers with the skills they need to care safely and confidently for a loved one at home. With 94% of the 162 students entering third level education for the first time, it also gave learners a renewed confidence in themselves, their skills and knowledge.

IT Carlow awarded €1million funding to support family carers across Ireland
pictured are the first students of the Certificate in Family Care at IT Carlow

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D. announced the Performance Funding as part of dedicated investment by Government for higher education institutions in recognition of innovative programmes to help create a better society. Institute of Technology Carlow is one of only five institutions to be awarded funding alongside MTU, NUIG, UCC and LIT/AIT.

The €1million fund was awarded to IT Carlow following the submission of a case study detailing the impact of the Certificate in Family Caring on participants.

Family Carers Ireland supports more than 500,000 family carers who care for loved ones such as children or adults with disabilities, older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. Funded part-time third-level opportunities, such as the Certificate in Family Caring, are the only viable higher education options for most family carers. In its collaboration with Family Carers Ireland, IT Carlow created the opportunity for learners to enter higher education for the first time. The bespoke programme was carried out in communities and facilitated the participants’ daytime caring commitments whilst formally accrediting their experience and wealth of knowledge.

The course also allowed family carers to meet and provide peer support to one another, thereby reducing social isolation and improving social integration whilst enhancing their caregiving skills, facilitating engagement in third-level education, and leading to renewed self-confidence.

Head of Faculty of Lifelong Learning, Dr Joseph Collins welcomed the HEA funding.

“This award of €1million Government funding is testament to the dedication and incredible work undertaken by our Faculty of Lifelong Learning and its commitment to providing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes for social and community benefit. This is truly transformative education at its best and here at IT Carlow the Faculty of Lifelong Learning is creating and embracing a culture of lifelong learning that transforms our society and enables people to participate fully in the workforce, in their homes, in their communities and in the wider society”.

Lindsay Malone, Deputy Head of Lifelong Learning, IT Carlow said, “We are delighted to receive such an endorsement for our Certificate in Family Caring. Family Carers who participated in this programme identified the importance of self-care and connecting with other carers as being very beneficial aspects of the course. Participants also identified the skills they learnt, including communication, understanding behaviours of concern, legislation around caring and the rights of individuals, and loss and grief. With this funding, we hope to further develop and roll-out this course to more learners”.

Head of Communications for Family Carers Ireland Catherine Cox said, “Working in partnership with IT Carlow in developing and delivering a certificate specifically for family carers has been incredibly rewarding. The Certificate in Family Caring acknowledges and, most importantly, accredits both the life experience and care skills that family carers have developed over their time caring for loved ones at home. Feedback from family carers who have participated in the training to date has been incredibly positive and includes comments such as,“I learned so much about myself, my abilities, my strengths and weaknesses. It gave me so much more than learning and knowledge, it gave me a sense of who I am again”. Another family carer who participated told us “I have realised now how resilient I am and how I was always putting my needs last – but that has changed.””

“We are over the moon with the recent announcement of the HEA’s Performance Funding Award of €1 million and are looking forward to working closely with IT Carlow’s Faculty of Lifelong Learning in bringing this vital training to many more family carers right across the country”, added Ms Cox.

Commenting on the funding, Minister Harris said, “I would like to congratulate the successful institutions on submitting high quality case studies that provide us with a snapshot of some of the exciting and innovative initiatives ongoing in higher education.

“The institutions receiving awards are clearly making a positive and significant impact on Irish society, in areas such as inclusion and gender equality, leadership and sustainability, and are helping create an Ireland that is progressive, and one in which every person has the same opportunities to reach their potential.”

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