Monday 14 October 2019

Budget 2020: 'There's not another job in the country where staff would lose income because their husband earns more' - full-time carer Lisa Domican

Lisa Domican, with her son, Liam, pictured at her home in Greystones. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
Lisa Domican, with her son, Liam, pictured at her home in Greystones. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
16/9/2019, Lisa Domican, with her son, Liam pictured at her home in Greystones. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

A mother of two children with special needs says that the carer’s allowance should be measured on the basis of how much caring you do, not your spouse’s income.

Lisa Domican, who is the full-time carer for both of her children, said that the manner in which the carer’s allowance is measured is demeaning.

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"I'm a full-time carer, that's my job. And yet from the state I get what is called a carer's allowance,” she told Independent.ie.

“So, 90pc of carers are female and it's basically saying that our place is in the home and we should be doing this anyway and we shouldn't be considered to be working independently.

16/9/2019, Lisa Domican, pictured at her home in Greystones. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM
16/9/2019, Lisa Domican, pictured at her home in Greystones. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / INM

“The word allowance is very patronising. 'This is your pocket money, you get to do this because you are staying home and you are having a lovely time minding children instead of going out and getting a job where you would actually be recognised for the work you are doing.'

"There is not another job in the country where the staff would lose their income because their husband earns more. I have written to Minister Harris three times. He passed on my letter to Regina Doherty. She sent me back the same letter three times saying, ‘we recognise carers, carers are great...’

"But it doesn't answer the question of why I'm not considered in my own right. If I manage to build up a way of earning income between 10.30am and 2.30pm every day, I would be more than happy to be assessed on that income, but I don't think it's fair that I am means tested on my spouse's income."

Lisa’s son Liam (21) needs one-to-one support for almost all of the day. While Lisa says he is a ‘really lovely clever young man’, he has very high needs and some challenging behaviour when he's very stressed.

Her daughter, Grace (20), she describes as a Siamese cat – ‘very beautiful and self-possessed’. Grace is non-verbal and uses a picture communication system her mother developed for her called Graceapp. Grace also has a type of premenstrual tension called PMDD, which means that for around 10 days of every month she can be very stressed, she cries a lot, and she can be aggressive.

Lisa drops Grace and Liam to adult education services in Dun Laoghaire and Milltown respectively every morning. After returning to their home by around 10.45am every day, she has to be back in the car again at 2.30pm to collect them.

The time she has alone in the house is dedicated to running the house. In the evening a carer comes to Lisa’s home to watch a movie with Liam for an hour while she brings Grace, who can’t be left at home because of her epilepsy, for a walk.

Lisa, who is in her 50s, repeats this every day, but her allowance is based on the income of her husband, who has to live away from home for much of the week for work.

According to Lisa, who moved to Ireland form Australia 19 years ago, the income she receives from the government should be based on the hours of caring she does.

"It should be based on the amount of caring that you have to do. The way Ireland is set up, the numbers of full-time cared-for adults are going to grow and grow,” she said.

"I estimate it would cost between €150,000 and €300,000 if they were put into residential care. So, I'm saving them all of this money.

“There's a real adversarial attitude towards people who are caring and people who are on social welfare because they are looking after someone with special needs or they are special needs. When you are dealing with the Department of Social Welfare it's like they're trying to make it hard to get the money in order to put you off.

"Leo says he's the Taoiseach for people who get up early, but Jesus Christ, try staying up as late as I have to.”

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