Carers ask for protection and support in up-coming Budget

No cuts to carers payments and a national carers' strategy - that's what carers are asking the Government for today.

No cuts to carers payments and a national carers' strategy - that's what carers are asking the Government for today.

"Despite being the only group who work for their social welfare payments, family carers have experienced serious cuts to payments and services since Budget 2009," the Carers Association said in a statement accompanying its pre-Budget submission.

Carers Association communications manager Catherine Cox said: "We have invited oireachtas members and ministers to come out to carers' homes and get first-hand experience of what the carers are doing.

"We've had a number come out and do that. They've been able to see themselves the physical and mental stresses the carers are facing."

As part of today’s pre-Budget submission, Government representatives will hear from two family carers - 41-year-old single mother Alison McKim from Terenure in Dublin, who provides full-time care to her son Zach and 55-year-old Harriet Conlon, who cares for her ageing parents.

Alison’s son Zack, 19, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, asthma and is blind and communicates mainly through facial expressions and hand gestures. He has been completely dependent on Alison for all his needs since birth.

“If the carers allowance is cut further, we will have to live in one room as I won’t be able to afford the heat and electricity bills," said Alison.

"Considering what it would cost to put Zack into full-time care, I think it’s a disgrace that Government would consider cutting carers payments. I’m very worried about our future."

Harriet Conlon provides full-time care for her parents. Her mother has dementia and disabilities, and her father is blind.

Harriet left her job to provide care. She said she was was very upset when requesting more incontinence pads for her mother and was told by the HSE to monitor her mother’s liquid intake and output to assess whether she merited the additional pads. She said this was intrusive and very degrading.

"Family carers implement Government’s own policy of supporting care in the home," said Catherine Cox.

"They are Ireland’s invisible workforce, many continuing to provide full-time care in spite of their own health problems, both physical and mental, and the lack of state support.

"Family carers work long hours and save the state billions. We have family carers calling our centres terrified about what this budget will bring and are appealing to Government not to implement further cuts to carer’s payments and services."

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