Share the Care: State ‘must better support’ family carers

New campaign calls for recognition of dedication and hard work of carers for disabled

Sam Kratschmar (left), Una McNicholas (right), Dublin Young Carer of the Year, and Jessica Walsh (9), who has Retts Syndrome, at Leinster House in Dublin, as Family Carers Ireland launch the Share the Care campaign. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The State must provide adequate support and resources to family carers in recognition of the vital role these 200,000-plus people play in Irish society, according to a new campaign, Share the Care.

The campaign, launched on Monday, seeks to make 2017 the year of the carer.

Its organisers are calling on the State to ensure the care of loved ones with disabilities is shared between a number of partners and parties.

The campaign also hopes to encourage carers to speak up about the numerous barriers they encounter in their day-to-day life and to focus on their own mental health and wellbeing.


"We want to provide carers with a platform where they can communicate the issues that are facing them, and where they can get help and support," said Catherine Cox from Family Carers Ireland, the group behind the campaign.

‘Very negative impact’

“Caring can have a very negative impact on the carer’s mental health. We must reinforce the necessity for respite from their caring role.

“The only way they can do that is if someone else is coming in to share that care and to take that burden.”

Family Carers Ireland chief executive John Dunne said the group looked forward to engaging with the consultation process over a new statutory home care scheme introduced by Minister of State at the Department of Health Helen McEntee, but warned that the Government must start "matching its rhetoric to its actions".

“We’re engaging in that [consultation] in good faith. Our worry is, it’s going to turn into a statutory right for the State to charge for home care - which is not what we’re talking about.

“No family carer set out to be a family carer in life - they found themselves in a circumstance and they took on that challenge,” he added.

‘Life on hold’

“They put their life on hold to help somebody else cope with the problems of their life. It’s a lonely, stressful and frustrating responsibility.”

Journalist and TV presenter Brendan O’Connor, who launched Monday’s campaign, highlighted the State’s neglect of people with disabilities and called for a tangible response to the needs of family carers.

“That notion of asking for help, it’s difficult because people are proud and they don’t want to ask their families or their neighbours,” he said.

“People in this situation are so used to not getting anything and being told there are no resources - they just get on with it.”

The Share the Care campaign runs until the end of 2017 with a series of events bringing together carers of all ages and demographics in Irish society.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast