Ireland could soon introduce a new bill that would allow full-time carers access to a 12-hour respite break per month.
It has been estimated that The Carer’s Respite Break Bill could help up to 80,000 people caring for someone requiring aged care.
The legislation will be introduced by Fine Gael TD Jim Daly, who claims it is needed because while the home-help service has benefited some areas, it was found to be very poor in others. He claimed this was due to the system being a discretionary provision in which many carers have to “beg, borrow or plead for home-help hours.”
Mr Daly claims The Carer’s Respite Break Bill will greatly help full-time carers, and ensures the bill is not simply a way of “throwing money” at the problem.
“The real way to deal with respite is to give people 12 hours by putting it in a statute that is not haphazard like home-help hours.”
“If you have someone looking after an elderly bed-bound relative in a rural area and they receive a payment for that care, that is great and good, but they are still not getting a break.”
It is estimated that the scheme would cost up to €70 million ($104 million) annually. Mr Daly also stressed that the bill would not affect the already in place Carer’s Support Grant, which is available to carers and gives them €1,700 ($2534) a year to help support them.
A specialised panel of carers
To qualify for the monthly respite, Irish carers must work full-time, as well as receive a domiciliary carer’s grant.
During the 12-hour respite, the person in need of care during the carer in questions absence will be cared for by another full-time carer. These carers will be administered from a special panel organised by Health Service Executive, thus eliminating the need for the original carer to organise a day or overnight respite for the person requiring care.
Full-time carers wishing to can also volunteer themselves to the HSE panel to provide relief care to other carers.
Benefits of respite
Mr Daly said that if the bill was passed, it would give full-time carers a much-needed day off to look forward to each month, claiming it would provide a “simple basic relief for those who work so hard caring for the less well off.”
“It may be just to go for lunch, get their hair done, go to the cinema or an evening meal, or just give a little time with another family member who loses out on time with their parents due to the massive commitment to the person being cared for.”
“It’s the very least the State can do for these people who surrender their freedom on a 24/7 basis to care and assist their loved ones.”
And it’s not surprising that many are in support of the bill. Family Carers Ireland, a charity that represents Irish carers, said that respite care is essential in supporting the health and overall general wellbeing of carers. They also said it is needed due to it being vital in sustaining caregiving efforts.