THE CARERS’ ASSOCIATION has called on the government to immediately implement its National Carers Strategy in the wake of last night’s Prime Time Investigates documentary.
The shocking programme found that more than 82 per cent of family carers had been affected by cutbacks in State services, underlining the human cost of government cutbacks in health and social services.
The exposé showed how many family carers are now living in extremely difficult circumstances – in positions being made continually worse by the government’s slow withdrawal of funding – while almost a quarter of family carers had developed physical disabilities of her own as a result of their labours.
Carers Association communications manager Catherine Cox said the report “completely backs up our own findings that many family carers are living in poverty and very difficult circumstances with these cutbacks”.
“Viewers may be shocked by the report’s findings but The Carers Association is already aware that this kind of hardship is commonplace for many family carers.”
Cox said the association had been informed last week about a family carer in Dublin who was told to monitor her mother’s intake of liquids to assess whether she should be entitled to additional incontinence pads.
With more cuts to come, Cox said, carers were being forced to consider placing their loved ones into hospital or residential care – in moves that would cost the government even more money.
“We simply cannot continue to ignore this burning issue, and we want the immediate completion and implementation of the National Carers Strategy.”
That strategy had been set for publication in 2009 until the economic situation forced the government to scrap the publication of a full strategy.
“The economic situation we are all facing makes it difficult to commit to major advances in services for carers. I appreciate that it will be disappointing for carers and the people for whom they care that we are unable to publish a strategy,” then-Social Welfare minister Mary Hanafin said in March 2009.
Current Social Protection minister Joan Burton has committed the new government to developing a carers’ strategy of its own.