Caregivers cut back on food and warmth as bill worries mount


Family carers, particularly those caring for a child with a disability, face unprecedented financial concerns, according to a new report from Family Carers Ireland.

While the rising cost of living has hit many families hard, people on Carer’s Allowance are ineligible for the state’s fuel allowance, resulting in many families restricting their basic needs, says Family Carers Ireland’s communications and policy director. Catherine Cox.

“As costs soar, we are seeing an unprecedented level of stress and financial worries piling up on caring families. Your financial resilience will be pushed to the limit,” she said.

“Many are forced to dive into savings if they’re lucky enough to have some. Many more are falling into debt and being forced to cut back on what is necessary to keep the person they care for healthy and warm.

“The care allowance is not a qualifying payment for the fuel allowance and as such the protections recently extended by the Government to support households during this difficult time do not apply to most care homes.”

The situation is more difficult for caregivers who care for a child with a physical or mental disability, according to the study “Caring at Home – Costs of Care Due to Disability”.

The study found that a two-parent household caring for a youth with a severe intellectual disability can expect to earn at least €752 per week – or €39,104 per year – to maintain a basic standard of living.

The biggest additional costs they face include transportation, the additional costs of accessing private therapy and relief, and costs for personal hygiene, clothing, and household adjustments.

It examined the additional and often significant direct costs that caregiving households face, but also the hidden costs of care that are often not considered, including the cost of not being able to work and the financial cost to families when services are unavailable.

The report found that caregivers not only routinely foot the bill for rest breaks, assessments and care equipment due to “strict eligibility criteria” for government support, but also struggle to access public services, obscuring the true extent of waitlists and inadequacies in provision of essential supports.

The report also found that “direct and indirect support falls well short of what many caring families, particularly those on low incomes, need to ensure an acceptable, equitable quality of life.

Even if they are able to meet their basic needs, the research shows that care households are disadvantaged in many areas compared to similar households without care and disability needs.

This includes opportunities to work, save, take a break, socialize and engage in recreational activities.

“For everything they’ve contributed during the pandemic, it’s just wrong that caregivers are now struggling to put food on the table or heat their homes. You deserve so much better. To ensure carers are supported at this extremely difficult time, we are calling on the Government to provide additional and targeted financial support for carers – particularly those on the lowest incomes,” Ms Cox added. Caregivers cut back on food and warmth as bill worries mount

Fry Electronics Team

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