Covid-19 'brutally exposed' deficiencies in care system

Covid-19 'brutally exposed' deficiencies in care system

Labour leader Ivana Bacik: 'The issue of care is central to any discussion on gender equality in Ireland as women do the bulk of unpaid and domestic care work.' Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Covid-19 pandemic “brutally exposed” Ireland’s care model, which was “ill-equipped to meet societal needs and impacts on quality”, the Oireachtas committee on gender equality has heard.

Addressing the committee on Thursday, Mary Murphy, professor of sociology at the Social Sciences Institute, Maynooth University, said the Government has incentivised private providers in the care sector, promoting an economic model based on high fees and low wages.

She said that “75% of childcare and 85% of elder care is now commodified, with consequences for affordability, accessibility, standards, staff ratios, and poor pay and working conditions for the predominantly female and often migrant staff.” 

"Ireland’s care model was brutally exposed in the pandemic faultlines. 

The largely privatised care infrastructure was ill-equipped to meet societal needs and impacts on quality, with negative consequences for care recipients, women’s participation in the labour force, and low-paid care workers

Professor Murphy said that failures were absorbed “through the community and family, and primarily by women”.

Report recommendations

The Oireachtas committee, chaired by Labour leader Ivana Bacik, was set up to address the recommendations made in the report published in April 2021 by the Citizens' Assembly on gender equality.

The focus of the meeting was on recommendations 4-19 of the Citizens’ Assembly report, relating to the care sector.

Sociology professor Mary Murphy said that '75% of childcare and 85% of elder care is now commodified, with consequences for affordability, accessibility, standards, staff ratios, and poor pay and working conditions for the predominantly female and often migrant staff'.
Sociology professor Mary Murphy said that '75% of childcare and 85% of elder care is now commodified, with consequences for affordability, accessibility, standards, staff ratios, and poor pay and working conditions for the predominantly female and often migrant staff'.

The report said that it was clear, even before Covid-19, that the Irish model of care needed to be transformed to ensure that every person is valued by society and that high-quality care was provided for all who need it at every stage of life. The report stressed that such an approach was even more urgent in a post-pandemic world to commit to well-designed, publicly funded pay and career structures for those in the care sector.

Gender equality

Before the meeting, Ms Bacik said: “The issue of care is central to any discussion on gender equality in Ireland as women do the bulk of unpaid and domestic care work. 

Some 98% of full-time carers are women, while twice as many unpaid female as male carers provide over 43 hours care per week

"The hourly wage of childcare sector staff is 43.5% below the average national wage, while 80% of childcare workers do not have sick pay,” she said. 

"The Oireachtas resolution asked the Assembly to bring forward proposals to seek to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in the workplace, politics. and public life. It is clear that until there is equality for those who work as carers, full gender equality cannot be achieved.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.