Family carers offer a valuable support to their loved ones, allowing them to remain living in their own homes and communities. While there are many positive and rewarding aspects of caring, it is evident that caring is a significant challenge, affecting all aspects of a family carer’s life. The needs of the cared for person can place great demands on the energy and time of the family carer, with many providing full time care, which can have a significant impact on their relationships with other people, their professional lives and their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The 2012 National Carers' Strategy represents a whole of Government response to the challenges faced by family carers and sets out the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government departments and agencies for carers. The Strategy is designed around a core vision which recognises and respects carers as key care partners who are supported to maintain their own health and well-being, care with confidence and empowered to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life. Oversight of the Strategy is led by the Department of Health, while the HSE’s Multi Divisional Carer Strategy group continues to support the process across the service divisions to progress the actions in the Strategy.
Funding has been secured through the Dormant Accounts fund for information and training supports for family carers. This is allowing family carers provide the best care possible to the care recipient, reduce the risk of injury to the carer and care recipient and helping family carers cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of their role. Funding is also being made available to provide for the dissemination of resource information for family carers, the development of support networks and support groups to assist with the transition back into social and economic life at the end of the caring role and measures that assist in promoting carer self-identification.
Identifying carers and their needs as early as possible, is of critical importance to ensure they are supported in their caring role. The introduction of the Carers’ Needs Assessment Tool will be a key step in helping to identify carers at all stages and will also play a role in identifying the supports required. The Department of Health secured Dormant Accounts funding to pilot the Carers’ Needs Assessment Tool in a HSE Community Health Care Organisation this year. This pilot study will greatly benefit the development of a comprehensive, standardised Family Carer Needs Assessment for identifying family carer’s needs by providing an opportunity to refine and improve the needs assessment.
The Government is committed to the development of a new statutory scheme for home-support services to enable people with care needs to live at home for as long as possible. Family carers were invited to participate in the public consultation carried out by the Department of Health in 2017, to which approximately 2,600 submissions were received. A report on the findings of the consultation was published in June 2018 and is available on the Department’s website. This will also inform the development of the new scheme.
As part of the question relates to service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.