There are reckoned to be half a million family carers in Ireland who between them clock up 19 million unpaid hours every week saving the state an estimated €20 billion Euros a year.
You could say that they spend their lives on the frontline looking after their loved ones. So, why are they treated so abysmally? How come they were omitted from the €1,000 bonus being offered to other frontline workers in the health system?
Family Carers Ireland has called on the government to recognise the vital role of family carers during Covid-19 in helping to keep loved ones safe by extending the €1,000 Covid bonus to all full time family carers.
Catherine Cox of Family Carers Ireland said: “Our frontline workers have worked incredibly hard to keep the health system running under severe pressure from covid and emergency care and they deserve this recognition.
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“What strikes me most is that this is yet another missed opportunity to show family carers, once and for all, that the Government recognises their value and contribution in society and acknowledge them as the forgotten frontline workers that they are.
“In normal times, family carers provide extraordinary levels of care to loved ones, putting the needs of others before their own. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they played a hugely significant role in lessening the spread of the virus and supporting the Irish healthcare system by keeping vulnerable family and friends safe at home and out of hospital.
“They did this at time when essential supports and services were withdrawn or severely curtailed. When the country shut down, they stepped up and kept their loved ones safe at home.”
“Family carers were overlooked when it came to the provision of PPE, priority testing and vaccination. They continue to suffer burnout and serious ill-health caused by the stress and strain of their care work. The role they’ve played in keeping their loved ones safe and the impact on their own mental and financial wellbeing continues to be ignored.
“The simple fact is that an extra bank holiday will be of no help to them. In fact, it will potentially increase the burden of care as schools and day services will close.
“As the country begins to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, there is now an opportunity for Government to make a meaningful impact and demonstrate that they recognise family carers and value their contribution.
“Family Carers Ireland is calling on the Government to extend the Covid bonus to family carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant, which is a non-means tested payment for full time family carers, at a cost of approximately €120 million bearing in mind the savings to the state of €20 billion that family carers contribute each year.”