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'I love her too much to put her in a home': Calls for support after RTÉ doc on the struggles of carers

Almost 200,000 people dedicate their lives caring for loved ones in Ireland.

Source: RTÉ - IRELAND’S NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA/YouTube

A CAMPAIGN HAS been launched to highlight the critical situation of many of Ireland’s family carers following an RTÉ Prime Time special highlighting the lack of support available to the thousands of carers across the country.

Behind closed doors, almost 200,000 people dedicate their lives caring for loved ones in Ireland. Census 2016 recorded a 35% increase in the number of carers who are aged 85 and over.

Carers provide over 6.5 million hours of care per weeks in Ireland. On average, carers care for their loved ones for almost the equivalent of a full 40-hour working week. Almost 9% provide full-time 24-hour unpaid care, with no real break at all.

Carers in Crisis last night highlighted the stories of some of those carers and those whom they care for.

Jack Brennan is almost 85 years old and cares for his wife Bernie, who has Alzheimer’s, at their home in Roscommon.

Brennen receives just 2.5 hours a day homecare for Bernie to get her up, washed, dressed, fed and back to bed in the evening. He gets an extra two hours on a Friday, in which he has to do all the week’s shopping and household errands.

“I wouldn’t put her in a home. I love her too much. If she went into a home it would break my heart,” Brennan said.

Jacinta Walsh (51), from Drogheda, cares for her 18-year-old son Sam, who has autism.

He has a learning disability and a number of health conditions, including type one diabetes.

As highlighted in last night’s programme, Sam’s behaviour is unpredictable and can be extremely violent. Jacinta has suffered some serious assaults.

Sim Sam turned 18 in July, there’s no respite care available to him or his family.

“I can’t tell you the difference it makes having respite. If you know you are getting a break in two or three weeks time, you can carry on in between but if there is no break on the horizon… that’s where we are now. There is nothing – that’s really, really hard,” Walsh told RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan.

One major worry for many carers is what will happen to their loved ones once they die. Some carers told RTÉ that their only hope is that the person they have given their lives to care for dies before them.

Family Carers Ireland has today said that carers don’t want praise or pity, they want proper support to enable them to continue what they’re doing.

The organisation is calling on the government to invest in home care as it has been “inconsistent and inequitable”.

“Last night’s programme was heartbreaking and reflected what we are seeing daily across the country,” Catherine Cox from Family Carers Ireland said.

“We have family carers contacting us all the time totally distraught and at their wits end. They need regular breaks to enable them to continue their caring role,” she said.

Carers are in crisis and this needs to change now. They are expected to keep providing unsupported care regardless of the detrimental costs their physical and mental well being.

“This is not acceptable and is pushing carers past breaking point. We believe caring should be a shared responsibility shared between families, communities and the state.”

Read: Cavan woman who provides round-the-clock care for her parents awarded Carer of the Year

More:Caring for Mam: ‘Putting myself first is not an option even though I have the most to lose’

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