The Online Family Carer Support Group, an initiative of Care Alliance Ireland, supported by once off funding from the Community Foundation of Ireland and the National Lottery, offers peer-to-peer support to family carers all around the country. The support group, which was set up in March 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, is moderated by a mix of health and social care professionals and family carers, offering a safe space to discuss all aspects of the life of a family carer, to ask and receive advice, and learn from other members experience.
In February 2021, thanks to once off funding from the Community Foundation of Ireland, Tara O’Connor was appointed as part-time project worker to manage the support group and the evolving activities.
As of July 2021, the group has a membership of over 2,700 family carers and a retention rate of 94%.
91% of the members of the group had never engaged with face-to-face support groups prior to the pandemic, which demonstrates that even before Covid-19 hit, many family carers were isolated and underserved by traditional support group models. The flexibility and access to 24/7 peer-to-peer support means that family carers can engage on their own terms, and at times that fit with their lives and caring duties.
The group provides an opportunity to interact and have fun with a group of people who really understand the struggles they face on a daily basis. There are regular social activities, all currently online, such as a regular book club, monthly quiz nights, weekly coffee mornings, ongoing chair yoga sessions, a busy gardening club, and the chance to win prizes and hampers. Members are also signposted to carer specific psycho-social/educational activities delivered by other organisations.
The Online Family Carer Support Group is run through a private group on Facebook, to join please visit: