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The Role of Carers in Ireland

A carer is someone who cares for a person who needs regular assistance because of an illness, disability or the inability to do some everyday tasks on their own. Family members are often unpaid as carers and can find they are looking after a family member, partner or close friend for long hours, often 24 hours a day.  Apparently, many family carers don’t see themselves as carers initially. As the role moves from providing a helping hand to becoming a part-time or full-time caring role, it often takes time for both the carer and the person receiving care to see that the caring role has developed. It can often happen that carers don’t see the significance and importance of their role. Of course, it can also happen that carers feel they are under appreciated and their role is overlooked by others. Family carers often need the support of others, partly so they get a break and a chance to recharge batteries and partly for the emotional support too.

Carers can be of any age, from the very young to the very old. The role of a carer can develop very gradually or it can happen suddenly, the care might be for the short-term or it could last many years. The work that a carer does could involve help with personal care, or it could involve running errands and helping with housekeeping and meal preparation or it could include the provision of company and support.   As the population increases and as we are all living for longer, it is likely that the majority of us will act as carers for a family member at some stage in our lives.

When you consider that 8% of all adults, 350,000 people in Ireland, are unpaid carers, those who are caring for a family member, it really emphasises the importance of carers for our society. It is good to see organisations being formed to support carers in their role and to make the feel valued. At Comfort Keepers, we have 1200 carers nationwide. Some of our caring work involves supporting family carers in a part-time capacity.  More work is being done within communities and within the HSE to offer support to family carers, to help them to feel appreciated, to ensure that they are looking after their own health as well as the person they are caring for and to give them some respite. This is possible with the help of professional carers such as those employed in organisations such as Comfort Keepers.

Do you think carers are appreciated sufficiently here in Ireland?

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