Vaccinate family carers without delay says Deputy Michael Lowry
Carers deserve dignity and respect
‘Family Carers across Tipperary and the country are one of the greatest assets to Health Care. Yet they are under-valued, unappreciated and all too often overlooked," according to Tipperary Independent TD, Michael Lowry
"Despite the service they provide, they consistently remain on the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to recognition. We can never hope to pay Family Carers their true worth. No price can be placed on love, compassion and selflessness. However we can grant them the recognition they deserve. The decision not to prioritise Carers in the Vaccination Rollout has been the ultimate snub,’ Deputy Michael Lowry said as he gave his full support to the ‘Caring for Carers’ motion in the Dail this week.
‘Family Carers across Ireland save the State an average of €10 billion every year. By giving their time to care for a loved one, they keep hospital beds free for others and reduce the need for State funded care facilities.
Independent Tipperary Deputy Michael Lowry
‘The actual work that Family Carers do is not reflected in this figure. The truth is that their work is priceless. One cannot put a value on the love and dedication that Carers give. Equally, it cannot be forgotten or go unnoticed.
‘Since this pandemic began, Family Carers have been left in absolutely no doubt that their contribution to Health Care is not fully appreciated. Their plight has been raised on numerous occasions. I have raised it myself. There have been compassionate responses, but nothing has changed. A small increase to the Carer’s Support Grant and a commitment to review and update the National Carers’ Strategy does not address the needs of people who give their lives to caring for the needs of a vulnerable loved one.
‘10% of Irish adults are Family Carers who provide 18.2million Support hours annually. 86% of Family Carers care for an ageing parent or a child with high dependency. A mere 6.2% of the overall Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Budget is spent on income support for carers. The trojan work of 10% of Irish adults is valued at this paltry amount’ he stated.
‘Prior the Pandemic, 68% of carers reported that they felt their own health has suffered as a result of caring, 48% had been diagnosed with mental ill health and there was a shocking 70% increase in the number of carers diagnosed with depression. This was before Covid struck, which has added immensely to an already serious situation.
‘Statistics on the mental health impact of the Pandemic on Family Carers are not available. However, there is sufficient information in the public domain to prove that it has had a devastating effect.
‘The primary concerns are that the Carer themselves will contract Covid and will be unable to care for the person who depends on them. There is an ongoing fear that the vulnerable person would contract Covid and end up in hospital. In that situation the Carer is not permitted to visit to offer reassurance or support.
‘Covid has led to the almost total isolation of Carers and their dependants. It is far to risky to allow anyone into the house and equally dangerous for the Family Carer to leave the house for any reason.
‘Some Family Carers who had the back-up of hired carers contracted by the HSE to provide assistance lost this support during the early months of the Pandemic when the contracted Carers were redeployed. They were simply abandoned for weeks on end. The majority lost Respite Services, which provided their only break from caring.
‘Family Carers continued to carry out their work. They still continue to do so every day, every night and every week. They struggle on and do the very best they can. They suffer their worries and fears in silence. Most have learned a long time ago that a listening ear is hard to find.
‘I support the content of this Motion. In particular, I wholeheartedly support the call to vaccinate Family Carers without delay. There is nobody who could honestly deny them that peace of mind for themselves and for those they dedicate their lives to. Knowing that their risk of contracting Covid is reduced would mean more to carers than anything else.
‘I support the call from Carers to increase the Carer’s Allowance, the Carers Benefit and to further increase the Carer’s Support Grant. Family Carers can be on call 24 hours a day. They seldom know the day or the hour when a crisis may occur. No other Health Care worker in the country is expected to be on call all day every day 365 days a year. If they were, they would demand and deserve to be compensated for it.
"In truth, despite saving the State €10billion annually, Carers ask for very little in return. It falls on us to identify and recognise their needs and to be their advocate in ensuring that they are treated fairly and equally. It falls on us to be their voice and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.
We can care for carers’ concluded Deputy Lowry.
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