Supporting the wellbeing of family carers

The Family Carer Support Project is a new initiative developed by Family Carers Ireland to support the wellbeing of family carers of older people living in Cork and Kerry. 

Funding from the Innovate Together Fund by Rethink Ireland and corporate partners including Z Zurich Foundation is enabling Family Carers Ireland to deliver the Family Carer Support Project to carers living in Cork and Kerry.

The project is being developed in partnership with the HSE, the Department of Gerontology and Rehabilitation Medicine UCC, the ETB, Last Aid International, The Irish Hospice Foundation and the Irish Red Cross.

Initiative objectives

The Family Carer Support Project aims to determine the needs of 150+ family carers of older persons and triage them to appropriate supports based on their level of need. For those who are coping well and who can self-manage, Family Carers Ireland signpost carers to its online supports and the new emergency scheme. 

For those who need more support, they can avail of the Caring with Confidence programme providing an opportunity for family carers to receive both education and group-based support to progress their wellbeing goals and access to a virtual carers clinic. 

For those in crisis, the Carers Outcome Star is available to support the development of an intensive action plan for the carer. This plan covers all seven areas of the carer’s wellbeing including health; emotional wellbeing; life at home; the caring role; managing money; time for self and work/education.    

The Carer Wellbeing Manager works with carers in crisis over 12 weeks to support the implementation of the agreed actions which can include referral to counselling, respite or applications to the Family Carers Ireland National Crisis Fund.

The benefits

Family carers of older people in Cork and Kerry and the older people they care for benefit from this initiative.  Healthcare professionals also benefit from additional support.  For example, Prof. Willie Molloy, a Consultant Geriatrician in St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork, has already seen the benefits of the project and there is now a joint clinic with his team once a week to support the carers of the older people who attend for cognitive assessment.

The impact of Covid

According to Family Carers Ireland, family carers are vital to achieving the policy objective of allowing older people to live well at home for as long as possible – providing unpaid home care conservatively valued at €20bn per year.

Pre-Covid, many of Ireland’s 500,000+ family carers were experiencing financial difficulty, social isolation and ill-health and the pandemic has made an already difficult situation much worse. Covid-19 means that for the foreseeable future, hospital capacity, residential and day support will all be significantly reduced, resulting in significantly increased demands on family carers. Social distancing and self-isolation, terms now synonymous with the pandemic, while difficult for us all, are almost impossible for family carers where personal, intimate and hands on care is provided. The pandemic brings significant psychological impacts on carers and those they care for, causing fear, anxiety, stress and grave uncertainty about the economy and the restoration of services for older people in the months and years ahead. 

Fundraising for social enterprises has been severely impacted due to the pandemic and securing funding from Rethink Ireland has enabled Family Carers Ireland to continue its crucial work in supporting carers in Cork and Kerry and developing new models of working that may have national reach.

The Innovate Together fund was established last year by the Department of Rural and Community Development (via the Dormant Accounts Fund) and committed €5m to the fund as part of a €40m support package to the community and voluntary sector. Rethink Ireland received additional donations from corporate partners including Z Zurich Foundation which committed  €500,000 to the fund.

For more information on Family Carers Ireland, visit the website or call: 1800240724

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