‘We were in a pandemic before this pandemic’
Former Tallaght Person of the Year Sinead Tighe outside government buildings at the launch of the Family Carer Scorecard

‘We were in a pandemic before this pandemic’

WITH the launch of the Family Carer Scorecard, a metric for reviewing the Programme for Government’s commitment to family carers, a mother described how families are “suffering”.

Family Carers Ireland got together with family carers from across the country to examine the Government’s progress in implementing commitments made in the Programme for Government.

This Family Carer Scorecard scored 18 commitments which are clear, measurable and have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of family carers and those they care for.

Of those 18 commitments, five were given a score of ‘regressive’, seven a score of ‘no progress’, four received a score of ‘limited progress’, two received a score of ‘good progress’ with zero ‘commitment achieved’ scores.

Sinead Tighe is the full-time carer for her son Daniel, who is one of around 40 children in Ireland born with a rare genetic disorder called Sotos Syndrome.

The Tallaght woman became a key figure within the community in 2017 when their family went public with their struggles to provide a better quality of life for Daniel.

“When you look at it, the excuse used for the loss of services is Covid-19,” Sinead explains.

“But Covid is just the latest excuse in a long line of excuses.

“It was that there was no funding, then it was there was nobody in place, the recruitment wasn’t there, now it’s Covid.

“We were in a pandemic before this pandemic, that’s the best way I could explain it.

“The services just aren’t good enough, we’ve had no respite, theres no assessment of needs, no interventions and carers from all walks of life are seriously struggling.

“The point of the Family Carer Scorecard is to highlight that we’re a year and half into this Government’s lifecycle and nothing has improved, in a lot of circumstances things have regressed.

“We need to keep that focus on the Government to let them know that they made these commitments but families are still suffering so bad with the inadequate services.

“The services need to be looked at, and I mean seriously looked at so that they can be fixed.”

A reduction in waiting times for assessment of needs, work to develop a pension solution for family carers that recognises their important work, increasing the income and capital disregard for Carer’s Allowance and the piloting of a statutory homecare scheme were viewed as improvements with the scorecard.

However, it was found through the scorecard that there was several shortcomings in the commitments made in the Programme for Government.

Among the shortcomings were the lack of review of the National Carers’ Strategy and extending the remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to ensure timely assessment for children and adult psychological services.

Shortcomings were also found in the provision of additional residential places, respite, day services and supports for adults with physical, sensory, and intellectual disability and autism throughout the country.

Family carers face immense challenges every day and with the Covid-19 pandemic stymying the Government’s efforts, Family Carers Ireland believe now is the time to re-up on their commitments.

“With the Government having now completed the first quarter of its term in office, it is imperative that we refocus and redouble our efforts towards ensuring that the ambitions of the Programme for Government are realised,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland.

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