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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Women spend twice the time men do on unpaid chores and caring duties

Plight of carers: TV presenter Brendan Courtney at the launch of the report
Plight of carers: TV presenter Brendan Courtney at the launch of the report

Anne-Marie Walsh

Irish people devote the third highest amount of unpaid hours to housework and caring duties of all EU countries - even though most already have jobs.

New research depicts our citizens as hard-working, clocking up an average of 16 hours a week caring and 14.5 hours on housework.

But women are shouldering most of the burden when it comes to working for nothing.

They spend over twice as much time on housework and double the time carrying out caring duties as men, according to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and ESRI study.

On average, women spend just under 20 hours a week on housework, while men spend just nine hours on household chores.

The Caring and Unpaid Work in Ireland study found that 45pc of women and 29pc of men care for others on a daily basis.

It links the high level of unpaid hours worked in this country with a low level of State support for carers. This puts Ireland more in line with Eastern European countries rather than Scandinavian and western European nations.

The report also found that 55pc of those providing unpaid care on a daily basis in Ireland have jobs.

Broadcaster Brendan Courtney, who launched the report, told how his life changed and his family had to take up caring duties after his father was "effectively branded as a bed blocker" following a stroke.

He was highly critical of the "not so fair" Fair Deal scheme, claiming that it was complex, confusing and not user-friendly.

Mr Courtney said thousands of adult children step up to fill the gap and are now primary carers for their elderly parents, although many of them are still in full-time employment.

But he believes there is an "acknowledgement" among people that did not exist before that somebody in their family would have to care for somebody.

"Who's it going to be?" he asked. "How can we legislate and protect that person who is going to take up that job?

"My personal journey, like many families, after my father's stroke overnight, not just my dad's life but all our lives changed," he said.

"We not only had to deal with the trauma, sadness and upset of our father being critically ill but now we had the stress and confusion as we attempted to understand his care needs, adapt as a family, come together as best we could and figure out a way forward - while not killing each other."

Mr Courtney said it was a waiting game at first to see what kind of recovery he would make and then the family found he would need 24-hour care.

"This was three months post-stroke. It was then I started to notice suggestions and comments from the hospital social worker and I also started to see the bed manager appear at these meetings, which always felt very strange to me," he added.

"We discovered afterwards we were just being pushed out of the hospital but with no care plan. And just bear in mind, none of my family works in healthcare so this was all totally new.

"So my father was effectively branded, as I now understand, a bed blocker.

"The only direction we were given was to navigate, and I'm just going to be honest, the ridiculously complex and confusing and most un-user-friendly funding system on the planet - the not-so-fair Fair Deal scheme."

Irish Independent

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