Carers’ groups merge to form new organisation

Family Carers Ireland wants to provide a ‘stronger national voice’ for the sector

Two major support groups for carers in Ireland have merged to form a new organisation. File photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Two major support groups for carers in Ireland have merged to form a new organisation. File photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

 

Two major support groups for carers have merged to provide a “stronger national voice” for the estimated 200,000 Irish people who look after family members on a full-time basis.

On Wednesday, the Carers Association and Caring for Carers officially joined together to become Family Carers Ireland.

With an expected annual budget of about €10 million and 800 staff, the body will focus on the growing demand for support services for the sector.

The organisation’s chief executive, John Dunne, said: “We were facing a situation where our income was falling and the demands on us in terms of governance and in terms of accountability and new standards was increasing.

“So the two organisations were facing the challenge that they might have to, or they would have to, divert resources towards . . . administration rather than frontline services.

“Rather than doing that . . . there was a very strong argument that if we looked at a merger we would be able to streamline and reduce our administration costs.”

There has been a near 20 per cent increase in State financial support for carers in the past five years, from €761 million in 2011 to €911 million this year .

Mr Dunne said that this level of spending was an investment, as it saved the exchequer about €4 billion annually in care spending.

Background

The two organisations were established at the same time more than 25 years ago, to support those who provide full-time family care.

The unification will result in the provision of 24 resource centres and more than 150 training courses, as well as the extension of a freephone helpline and in-home respite services.

At the launch of the new organisation, Tánaiste Joan Burton said Family Carers Ireland will give carers “a voice, but also enable better services in terms of advice and information for carers, and that really is important when people may be dealing with different hospitals and agencies and care organisations”.