Family carers have seen services and supports depleted or eradicated over the past year
Family Carers Ireland is today launching its “Paws for a Cause” national fundraising drive which is taking place during National Carers Week June 7 to 13. Kindly supported by www.buy4petsonline.ie, the charity is asking people all over Ireland to walk or run 24k over 7 days with or without their furry friend in solidarity with Ireland’s 500,000 family carers and in recognition of the 24/7 nature of many caring roles.
A hardship fund established in 2020 at the height of the pandemic to help family carers in crisis has run out of money due to the demands for help from those struggling mentally, physically and financially. All monies raised by ‘Paws for a Cause’ will go directly to help family carers in crisis.
The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult for all but, in particular for family carers who saw services and supports for their loved ones depleted and, in many cases, eradicated. The blanket withdrawal of supports such as homecare, respite, personal assistance hours and residential care during lockdown forced many to care alone, around the clock and without the support of extended family or friends.
Family Carers Ireland’s “Caring Through Covid” report, which explored the experiences of 1,307 family carers caring during COVID-19, found that the pandemic is having a profound impact on their lives. Not only are they caring without practical supports, but they are also struggling financially and are worried about what the future holds for them and the people they care for.
Parents of children with a disability lost the routine and relief of school, day services and essential therapies, placing their children at serious risk of regression. Older carers and those with underlying health conditions were expected to cocoon, isolated and became reliant on others. Even carers who were coping relatively well prior to the pandemic became mentally and physically drained, with many struggling to maintain their caring role.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland said: “Family Carers Ireland has campaigned tirelessly, over the past 12 months in particular, for recognition and support for Ireland’s 500,000 family carers. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we have supported family carers by sourcing and distributing tens of thousands of gloves, masks, hand sanitiser and aprons to family carers who were unable to access PPE. In response to unprecedented levels of stress being reported, we launched a range of psycho-social supports for family carers in distress (in partnership with Mental Health Ireland) coupled with telephone/online counselling.
“In March 2020, we established a special hardship fund to support family carers in crisis. We have used this money to put food on tables, oil in tanks and in one case buy bite proof clothing for a mother whose daughter was experiencing severe sensory overload due to the loss of routine from school and day services.
“We have paid for a nurse to sit with a beautiful 6-year-old palliative boy overnight so that his mother, who suffers with her own significant health problems, could get at least one good night’s sleep. We have funded bathroom adaptations, wheelchairs, emergency respite stays and therapeutic baths. The list goes on.
“Unfortunately, our hardship fund has run out, but the needs and demand are greater than ever and will continue well beyond 2021 as we emerge from this pandemic and examine the damage it has caused, particularly to the mental health of our family carers and their loved ones.
“Family carers have played a more significant role in suppressing the coronavirus than most and their essential contribution to the national healthcare response should be acknowledged and applauded. Unfortunately, they have felt largely ignored and overlooked throughout this pandemic particularly when it came to providing PPE, priority testing and priority vaccinations. Thousands of family carers are still waiting to be vaccinated. By supporting our Paws for a Cause fundraiser, you will help to provide a vital lifeline to the forgotten frontline of this pandemic and shine a light on their remarkable contribution to our society."
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