24 April 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
A West Cork TD has drafted legislation that would entitle all full time carers to a respite period at least once every month. If enacted, Jim Daly’s new legislation will, for the first time ever, place respite services on a statutory footing, and compel the Health Service Executive to provide the care.
Fine Gael TD Jim Daly says while his Bill runs to five pages of detail, its intention could not be simpler.
“Regular respite is a must for carers. It is hugely important for carers to look after their own health and wellbeing, something often neglected as they give so much to their role in looking after others. Up until now the State has not done enough in this area. The new legislation I am tabling in the Dáil is designed to give carers one full day off to themselves, at least once a month.
“This Bill will compel the HSE to provide one 12 hour period of care to every carer who requests it by giving three weeks’ notice to the HSE. It’s the very least the State can do to support people who surrender their freedom on a 24/7 basis to care and assist their loved ones.
“There are many carers doing a wonderful service to their loved ones, and indeed to the State. They are all human however and like us all, they need regular breaks. It may be just a day off to get the hair done, go out for a bite of lunch and maybe the cinema, or it may be to enjoy some time with another loved one in the home who misses out, due to their relative being so busy looking after the person in need of care.
“I am adamant that carers need more regular breaks but without it affecting their financial position. My Bill would foresee the maintenance of the Carers Support Grant at its current rate of €1,700 per annum. I know that money was often thrown at these types of issues in the past as a quick fix, but that approach does not work. We have to make the services available to people.
“In putting others first, carers often put themselves last, and some spend the grant on an essential care element, going without a break themselves. It’s the need for more regular breaks that I am prioritising here.”
Deputy Daly said he has sought permission from the Ceann Comhairle to introduce his Bill in the Dáil next week, and hopes to table it on Wednesday the 3rd May.