Commenting on The Carers Association “scorecard” showing lack of progress on the National Carers Strategy, the IHF said the fact that support for family carers is provided on an ad hoc basis is unsatisfactory.
The Carers Association – which represents 187,000 carers in Ireland – looked at the 42 action points contained in the 2012 National Carers Strategy and found that only one has been achieved in full, while four have showed good progress.
19 have showed slow but initial progress, but 10 have showed no progress and eight have regressed.
Carers Association spokeswoman Catherine Cox said that funding cuts of almost 20 % are the hardest for their members.
“Respite provision is very poor across the country, so carers often cannot get respite for breaks, which leaves them struggling.”
The Association estimates that carers save the state €4bn a year, caring for loved ones who would otherwise need to be looked after by the HSE.
Catherine Cox said that there is no joined-up thinking when it comes to discharging people from hospital, which has knock-on effects on hospital overcrowding.
“When people are being discharged from hospital, carers are not given the support they need. If they were given a little bit of training and the equipment they require, carers could bring their loved ones home quicker which would free hospital beds to be used by other people,” said Ms Cox.
Marie Lynch, Head of Healthcare Programmes with the IHF, said the absence in Ireland of an end of life care strategy, combined with the lack of recognition of the needs of carers who provide palliative and end of life care in the existing national carers strategy, means families and those supporting loved one with a life limiting illness are not receiving the targeted support at this very challenging and emotional time of their lives.
“The support family carers receive in Ireland continues to be provided on an ad hoc basis. This contrasts to other countries like UK or Australia, where national policy recognises and advocates for palliative care needs of family carers to be identified and responded to.”
She said the role of a family carer who provides end of life care is complex and often undervalued.
“There needs to be an acknowledgement of palliative care being a real and significant component of care that is provided regularly by family carers,” she said.