The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By JES­SICA FARRY

Fam­ily Car­ers in North Leitrim are un­der sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure in their role, a new re­port has found.

A re­port car­ried out by 24/7 Fam­ily Car­ers found that there is no Extreme Weather Trans­port Plan to en­able pro­fes­sional car­ers to travel in snow and freez­ing weather con­di­tions.

The re­sult of this sit­u­a­tion is that many Fam­ily Car­ers in North Leitrim as in many ru­ral ar­eas in Ire­land have no help from pro­fes­sional car­ers on these days’ de­spite hav­ing a HSE home care pack­age.

Many found this out this year as the Beast from the east cov­ered the coun­try with ice and snow.

1,435 peo­ple in Leitrim iden­ti­fied them­selves as Fam­ily Car­ers in the 2016 Cen­sus. Many oth­ers do not call them­selves car­ers – they just do their best look­ing af­ter their loved ones; many with­out any sup­port from the state.

Fam­ily car­ers in­ter­viewed for this re­port also high­lighted is­sues that im­pacted on their qual­ity of life such as: lack of pub­lic trans­port; hav­ing to travel long dis­tance to ac­cess med­i­cal ser­vices; se­verely lim­ited respite op­por­tu­ni­ties; frac­tured ser­vices and lack of over­ar­ch­ing sup­port.

Oth­ers pointed out the lack of lim­ited men­tal health sup­port, so­cial iso­la­tion and poor ICT and phone in­fra­struc­ture.

Speak­ing at the launch last week, a mem­ber of the 24/7 Fam­ily Car­ers steer­ing com­mit­tee An­nie McGuin­ness said: “The free travel pass as it stands is of lit­tle ben­e­fit to Fam­ily Car­ers liv­ing in North Leitrim.

“The Depart­ment of Trans­port have made a com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing the trans­port prob­lem in ru­ral Ire­land but there ap­pears to be no ur­gency in ad­dress­ing the re­place­ment of the Mo­bil­ity Al­lowance Scheme”.

The re­search also de­scribes Fam­ily Car­ers frus­tra­tion at in­ad­e­quate phone cov­er­age and broad­band caus­ing ex­tra dif­fi­cul­ties with com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lead­ing to greater lev­els of iso­la­tion.

Ms McGuin­ness con­cluded by say­ing: “The very lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties for respite for older peo­ple and none for some car­ers such as those car­ing for chil­dren or those with men­tal health is­sues in North Leitrim is putting extreme pres­sure on peo­ple. The re­search found that the chances of respite can pos­si­bly in­crease if a carer reaches break­ing point”.

The re­port points out the in­con­sis­ten­cies in ser­vices in North Leitrim for peo­ple be­ing cared for in the home where ser­vices can vary from one part of county to another.

Be­ing a Fam­ily Carer any­where in Ire­land is stress­ful, how­ever the re­search finds that be­ing a Fam­ily Carer in a ru­ral area brings ad­di­tional pres­sures and chal­lenges.

Mar­ian Harkin (MEP) who wrote the for­ward and launched the re­port by the Fam­ily Car­ers Steer­ing Group, pic­tured along with the re­port’s au­thor Dr. Deirdre Byrne.

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