Report reveals hidden impact of caring

Many carers have no access to support/services
  • Deborah Condon

A new report into the plight of family carers in Ireland has revealed that 44% regularly deal with abusive behaviour, while 49% have no supports or services available to them.

This is the second report in a series called Paying the Price, which has been undertaken by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI), Family Carers Ireland (FCI) and the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.

There are currently 355,000 family carers in Ireland, that is one in every 10 adults. The report highlights how many of these carers are expected to fill significant service gaps in health and social care systems, often at major physical, psychological and financial expense to them.

The report found that 44% of carers regularly deal with abusive behaviour and among these, most said their loved ones did not have access to suitable respite.

It also found that 49% of carers had no supports or services available to them, while 76% of care recipients were not receiving any home support hours.

Some 79% of carers supporting children with care needs were finding it difficult to make ends meet, while overall, 25% of carers could not access supports and services due to transport/distance issues.

According to CPI president, Dr John Hillery, the results indicate that the plight of carers is worse now than it was 10 years ago. He suggested that this is becayse those who should be helping carers are no longer listening.

"My belief is best represented by a play on the lines of Yeats - I wonder if too long listening to tales of sacrifice has made a stone of the heart of those who should help. We all must reflect on our roles, clinicians, politicians and administrators and ask, are we listening to carers and are we responding in ways that help?" he commented.

Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring was compiled following a nationwide health and wellbeing survey of 1,102 family carers, which was carried out between November 2018 and January 2019.

The average age of survey respondents was 49 and 90% were women. Some 82% cared for at least 50 hours per week, and among these, 61% cared for at least 100 hours per week.

Just over 21% of carers were also in paid employment.

While most cared for one person, 20% cared for two people while 5% cared for three or more people. Some 16% had already been caring for at least 21 years, while 26% had been caring for 11-20 years.

This survey is a repeat wave of a similar survey undertaken in 2009 and allows researchers to track changes in the health, wellbeing and burden of carers 10 years later.

The report can be viewed here.

 


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