The Online Family Carer Support Project, an initiative of Care Alliance Ireland, supported by funding from the Health Service Executive, 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, Tara O’Connor was initially appointed as Project Worker to manage the support group and the evolving activities, moving on to become the full-time Project Co-ordinator. At the 2022 Care Alliance Ireland AGM, Tara delivered a presentation about the Online Family Carer Support Project. The full visual/oral presentation can be viewed here, or the pdf slides of the presentation accessed here.
As of May 2023, the group has a membership of over 5,300 family carers from all across Ireland, and a current 12 month retention rate of 97%.
Quote from a member:
81% 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.
This 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, a busy gardening club, a Crafty Carers group, art classes and regular chances to win prizes and hampers. Members are also signposted to carer specific psycho-social/educational activities delivered by other organisations.
A recent survey of group members showed that over 93% of respondents reported their experience of the group as "positive" or "very positive", and 96% have never had any negative experiences in the group, nor had they witnessed any. A PhD study, undertaken by Rosemary Daynes Keraney from the University of Limerick is currently investigating the impact this group has on it's members. Preliminary results are very positive, indicating that our online group has a significant positive effect on it's members. In November 2022, Rosemary gave a presentation to The Psychological Society of Ireland about her research, which you can view here.
You can read more details about the online support project here
The Online Family Carer Support Project is run through a private group on Facebook, to join please visit:
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