Tuesday 17 September 2019

Mum critical of carers' cut

Ciara Galvin

A mother of four has described the system for carers as 'unjust' after her benefit was cut without warning following her father's admittance into residential care.

Maria Haran and her family recently made the most difficult decision they have had to make, to put their father into residential care.

Maria was a full-time carer for her father, Peter McGowan, who suffers from Alzheimer's up until the last number of weeks when caring for him became too tough for her and her family.

"It was hard, and even deciding to put him into residential care was hard," said Maria.

She gave up her job working in a pre-school in order to provide care to her father.

"I had worked there for eight or nine years and I have four kids of my own, they're not babies, but they're teenagers."

The mother told The Sligo Champion that she feels 'cheated' as there is no grace period in order to allow carers to seek work once they are no longer full -time carers for their loved ones.

"I rang them [Social Welfare branch] up and told them and straight away my money was stopped, I thought you'd have a few weeks grace to get yourself together and look for a job."

Ms Haran states that she has no issue with the fact payment stops when a carer is no longer required, but, she believes the current system is unjust on people who are saving the state a lot of money by taking on the role.

When a person receiving care passes away payments continue for six weeks, whereas in Ms Haran's case, following the decision by her and her family to admit their father into residential care, the payment stopped immediately.

"I always took it for granted that you had six weeks but I think that is when the person passes away, but in this case they're still gone out of the home.

"It still feels like a death, he's gone out of the family home. It's hard."

Speaking about no longer having a payment while now seeking a return to the workforce after looking after her father, Ms Haran said the uncertainty has put a strain on her family.

"I felt a bit cheated, they don't give you any time at all. It's not a lot you get but it's something. All of the sudden bang, your money is gone."

She now faces a period of uncertainty where she will receive nothing at all while seeking employment.

"I am now looking for a job, but it's not going to happen over night.

"I use my money to do the shopping every week and my husband has to give me money now to do the shopping after paying all the other bills and everything else. It puts a strain on us now."

She added, "Carers save the state so much money and this is the thanks you get.

"I do this for my Dad unconditionally, but it's an unjust system. I'm sure there's plenty that would agree with me," states Ms Haran.

Sligo Champion