National carers' strategy launched
Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch has said she hopes carers will be “recognised, supported and empowered” as a result of the newly-published National Carer’s Strategy.
The strategy sets out a series of goals, including the need to recognise the needs of carers through the provision of income supports.
Ms Lynch said the presence of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at the launch was evidence of the importance Government placed on the strategy.
“The publication of this strategy sends a strong message to carers that Government recognises and values their selfless hard work and compassion which enhances the health and quality of life of thousands on a daily basis,” she said.
The strategy says the value and contribution of carers should be recognised and their inclusion in decisions relating to the person they are caring for should be promoted.
Carers should be supported to in managing their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being, the strategy adds. Carers should be supported to “care with confidence” through the provision of adequate information, training and services and should be empowered to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life.
Mr Kenny said it was time for Ireland to formally acknowledge and to care for carers, who deserved public protection and recognition.
“It is that inestimable element of quite simply love in our carers extraordinary work that seems them go that extra mile every single time.”
He said men, women and often children who were carers were often “at the very limits of their coping”. It was important to recognise the authority of carers, he added.
Home-based care by family members was preferred by the vast majority of people. “That care is not just the exhausting mechanics of washing, cleaning, dressing and exercise. It is also the cups of tea and the news brought home from work and school by children and grandchildren,” he said.
The Cabinet sub-committee on social policy, which is chaired by Mr Kenny, will monitor the progress of the strategy.
Mr Gilmore said Government Departments and agencies that deal with carers must take their lead from the strategy, which he described as “the first of its kind in Ireland”.
“I think it is important to recognise that far and away it is carers who know and understand the condition of the person that they are caring for,” he said. Carers often felt their expertise was not taken into account when decisions were being made by authorities.
The strategy was welcomed by the Carers Association of Ireland. The strategy noted that carers were predominantly the spouse of the person being cared for, and four in 10 carers were the sole carer for the person they looked after.
Census 2011 found that of the 187,112 people who identified themselves as carers, 73,999 were men. The strategy stated children and young people with caring responsibilities should be protected from “the adverse impacts of caring”.