I also want to refer to last night's "Prime Time" harrowing programme which focused on family members who were providing care for their loved ones. It highlighted the fact that the Government was failing in a very profound way those in need of care. It also painted a stark picture of the incredible stress and distress experienced by many families who were struggling to provide care with little or no support from the State. Today one in 20 people is a family carer, but that figure is set to rise to one in five by 2030. According to Family Carers Ireland, carers provide €10 billion in unpaid care each year. Census data show that there are 3,800 young carers under the age of 15 years and 29,000 over the age of 65. The human cost of the State's failure was evident for all to see and those of us who run constituency clinics see it every single day.
I have been raising with the Taoiseach for some time the case of Sam O'Carroll from County Louth. He is autistic and incontinent at night. He bangs his head, has broken his bed three times and can hurt himself. He had been receiving respite care from the age of 13 years, but lost this service on turning 18. Speaking about the loss of this service, Sam's mother said, "I can’t tell you the difference it makes having respite. If you know you are getting a break in two or three weeks time, you can carry on in between but if there is no break on the horizon ... That’s where we are now – there is nothing – that’s really really hard.” Sam has taken to having violent episodes and recently seriously assaulted his mother. A social care worker has stated he is a risk to his mother and that appropriate funding should be provided to ensure he receivess safe, secure levels of care, but that has not happened.
Brendan is 13 years old and has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, which condition is life-limiting. He has profound and significant medical needs and is bedridden with bed sores. His mother has not had a break for weeks. I spoke to her on Saturday or Sunday last. Brendan has not received respite care for months.
The Taoiseach has a duty to ensure these citizens and their families will receive the necessary supports and services. I have a proposal for his consideration. A 20% increase in the number of respite care hours would cost €13 million and meet the expected demand. The provision of 2 million additional home help hours and 2,500 extra home care packages would cost €72 million. These are very modest proposals, but they would make a huge difference to the lives of these citizens. I, therefore, ask the Taoiseach to take and implement them as a matter of urgency. I ask him to make this a republic of opportunity for these citizens. Will he do what I ask?