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Sunday 19 November 2017

Carers march on Dail over fears of loss to funding

Young Carer of the Year Sam Norris with his mother Antoinette.
Young Carer of the Year Sam Norris with his mother Antoinette.
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

SOME 187,000 family carers are fearful of further cuts in vital support services in the upcoming Budget.

At least 100 carers and those with disabilities have marched on the Dail, calling on the Government to halt any plans for further cuts in home support services.

With loud shouts of "Reilly, Reilly, Reilly, out, out, out," protesters marched from the GPO towards Leinster House to express their "disgust" at the Government's treatment of the most vulnerable.

Richard Boyd Barrett urged those fearful of cuts in care allowances to unite, pointing out that when the pensioners had fought for their rights it had "scared the living daylights out of politicians".

A larger, more general protest is planned for November 24.

Earlier yesterday, the Carers Association launched its pre-Budget submission, claiming it was "easier" to get €700 a week for nursing home care than just €100 to help towards care in the home.


It warned that people have no legal right to home care in this country, despite having firm rights to a hospital bed.

It said 187,000 family carers around the country are facing further cuts to vital support services, such as home care packages and home help hours.

"Carers across the country are very fearful of what this Budget will bring with further threats to cuts to household benefits packages, free travel for carers and services for young adults with disabilities on reaching 18," said spokeswoman Catherine Cox.

The Carers Association has found cutbacks have resulted in a "postcode lottery" developing over the Housing Adaptation Grant -- which covers the cost of fitting a downstairs toilet or bedroom for those with disabilities.

Some 22 of the 34 local authorities have suspended the scheme indefinitely, with others reporting waiting times of between one and four years.

Mattie Sheridan (66) who cares for his wife Bridget who has Alzheimer's disease and has recently suffered two strokes has been on a long waiting list to add a downstairs bedroom and bathroom for his wife. He fears for Bridget's safety, as she wanders around upstairs at night.

"Since her stroke seven weeks ago she gets very upset and is often in floods of tears," he said.

"It breaks my heart looking at her but all I can do is comfort her. She doesn't understand."

Another carer, Moira Skelly from Walkinstown in Dublin, said she was extremely fearful for her daughter Ciara, who has cerebral palsy, autism and a severe intellectual disability. She turns 18 at Christmas and the HSE has warned the family that there will be no funding for adult services from September.

Ciara would be forced to stay at home with nothing to do.

"She loves school and she skips out to the bus, smiling and laughing with her friends. To remove her from all that will be devastating," said Moira.

"I lie awake at night and worry how I'm going to fight the system. But we are just one of hundreds," she said.

Irish Independent

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