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'Guiding support for family carers'

As part of our commitment in our current Strategic Plan to ensuring our member organisations and other core stakeholders have access to up-to-date relevant information, this page was created to collate information relating to the Irish General Election 2020 and the commitments made by various political parties and independent candidates regarding family care. 

The purpose of this page was to not to advocate for any one party or candidate, but to focus on the statements made in relation to issues that are relevant for Ireland's 391,260 family carers.

Please note, where points are made below they are directly quoting policy documents, statements made by official representatives or the party website. 

f you have any questions, or have any other comments to make please contact our Policy & Research Officer Zoe Hughes (zoe@carealliance.ie). 


Fine Gael

The Fine Gael Election 2020 Manifesto was launched on 24th January, and is available to read here. Some of the key points that relate to family careers are; 

 

 

  • By 2025 - will be investing an additional €5 billion per year to resource our health service
  • Provide 2,600 extra hospital beds and 4,500 community beds
  • Provide 80 additional Primary Care Centres and community diagnostic facilities
  • Develop three elective hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway
  • Recruit 3,840 primary care workers, with recruitment of 1,000 by the end of this year (2020)
  • Expand diagnostics services and increasing to access to radiology services in the community
  • Extend free GP care to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant
  • Extending discretionary medical cards to those with a terminal illness
  • Commence the recruitment of 1,000 frontline staff, including public health nurses and allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dementia advisers and speech & language therapists
  • Cap the maximum daily charge for patients and visitors at €10 for all hospitals. Flexible day/pass/multientry passes will be introduced in all hospitals to patients and their families
  • Updated National Rare Diseases Plan, with agreed prioritisation of tasks and clear implementation timelines
  • Fully implement and resource a refreshed Vision for Change and use a ‘stepped care’ approach
  • Make home care a statutory right
  • Fund 1 million additional home care hours this year and will deliver an additional 1 million for every year that Fine Gael is in office
  • Increase the weekly social welfare payments to the disabled and family carers by at least €25 over the next five years, a €5 increase each year
  • Committed to the introduction of personalised budgets
  • Review and update the National Carers Strategy
  • Develop a pension solution for carers, specifically acknowledging and allowing periods of credits for time spent caring, whether for children or elderly loved ones

 


Fianna Fail

In April 2019, Fianna Fail published a policy on carers, which is no longer available on their website as of January 2020. Key points included; 

 

1) Increasing the income disregard from €332.50 for a single person and €665 for a married couple to €450 and €900 per week respectively. This would be done over the lifetime of the next Government.
2) Extending free travel to include children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance.
3) Reintroducing the Transport Support Scheme announced in 2013 as a replacement for the Mobility Allowance and Motorized Transport Grant.
4) Extending the number of weeks Carers Benefit is paid from 104 weeks to 156 weeks

On 20th January 2020, some key points were presented during a press briefing (see here for details on the Fianna Fáil website). The key points relevant to family carers include; 

  • Significantly increase home care support hours to alleviate delayed discharges - a figure of 5 million additional hours has been mooted by the party.
  • Examine how the district hospital network can be utilised more to provide step down facilities.
  • Provide an additional five million hours of home care support.
  • Implement a statutory homecare scheme.
  • Deliver a ‘Carers Guarantee’ proposal that will provide a core basket of services to carers across the country regardless of where they live
  • Ensure that home support to be adaptable and responsive especially for conditions such as dementia.
  • Put in place a further 15 dementia advisers so as ensure one in each Local Health Office area and a dementia key worker to coordinate care in each Community Health Organisation area.
  • Examine the case for inclusion of dementia in the chronic disease framework.
  • Enable anyone diagnosed with dementia to apply for home helps or home care packages, including intensive packages within allocated resources.
  • Ensure new build Nursing Homes provide a Dementia Unit.
  • Establish a community neuro-rehabilitation teams in each of the nine CHO areas.

The Fianna Fail Election 2020 manifesto was published on 24th January, and is available to read here. Key points for family carers include; 

  • Fund a special €10 top-up payment for all Carer and Disability Benefits
  • Increase the Home Carer’s Tax Credit to €2,000
  • €25 per week increase in Carers Allowance payments by 2025
  • Increase Housing Adaptation grants by €20m.
  • Provide five million additional Home Help hours
  • Recruit 4,000 additional nursing staff over the next five years;
  • Deliver a ‘Carers Guarantee’ proposal that will provide a core basket of services to carers across the country regardless of where they live. 
  • Develop a statutory system of home care
  • Increase Fair Deal funding by €225m
  • Put in place a further 15 dementia advisers so as to ensure one in each Local Health Office area
  • Provide a dementia key worker to coordinate care in each Community Health organisation area
  • Ensure that those experiencing financial hardship due to very serious illnesses such as cancer will receive a discretionary medical card
  • Reduce the Drug Payment scheme threshold to €100
  • Remove car park charges in hospitals
  • Prioritise recruitment in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with a special focus on areas such as the south east counties and south west Dublin where less than half the required staff are in place
  • Provide for Adult Mental Health Intellectual Disability teams
  • Top up payments to people with disabilities by €10 (includes those in receipt of Carers Allowance; Carers Benefit; Disability Allowance; Illness Benefit; Blind Pension & Invalidity Pension) 
  • Increase personal assistance hours by 1.5m
  • Boost funding for Housing Adaptation grants by €20m
  • Extend the Free Travel Scheme to children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance  
  • Recruit an additional 800 therapy staff
  • Provide €10m of increased funding year on year to enhance respite services
  • Provide €20m of increased funding year on year to provide extra adult day services
  • Publish a new Carers Strategy
  • Increase the income disregard from €332.50 for a single person and €665 for a married couple to €450 and €900 per week respectively
  • Increase the capital disregard for means purposes from €20,000 to €50,000
  • Expand more social protection supports by ensuring that PRSI contributors are eligible for the carers’ benefit
  • Introduce legislation banning the inappropriate use of reduced timetables
  • Reform the NCSE so that its primary function is to ensure each child with a special education need has an appropriate school place in line with their constitutional rights
  • Invest in Dementia Advisors & workers to help older people remain in their own home

Labour

Labour outlined some core actions in their 'Alternative Budget 2020' (available here). 

Key points include; 

1) Increase supports to carers and reduce the income income disregard for Carer’s Allowance, so more people are supported.

2) With our ageing population, home support services must be fully funded. A growing number of people also suffer from dementia, which is why Labour would allocate additional resources to this area of social care. 

On 28 January 2020 Labour published their General Election 2020 manifesto, which can be read here. Key points relating to family carers include; 

  • Implement an investment plan to deliver more hospital beds, and the staff required
  • Redirect health funding so that it is aligned to population medical need
  • Increase funding for home help and respite care
  • Extend free-of-charge GP care to all under-18s, and to everyone with a long-term illness or disability
  • Implement a National Flexible Working Strategy, including a right to flexible working hours
  • Redirect resources towards early intervention with young children who have a disability and special needs
  • Continue to expand the provision of Special Needs Assistants in schools
  • Implement a Carers Strategy
  • Increase the Carer’s Allowance income disregard and increase the
  • Carer’s Support Grant by €100
  • Start the process of introducing paid Carers’ Leave, in line with the new Work-Life Balance Directive
  • Improve services for people suffering from ME, myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Give a parking waiver to all patients attending hospital for continuous treatments, such as cancer patients
  • Reduce hospital inpatient and outpatient charges by 50%
  • Ensure that no one with a serious disability or long-term illness is without at least a GP Visit Card if not a Medical Card
  • Provide a home care package to every identified case, and we will increase funding for dementia supports, with a minimum standard of community services for people affected by dementia in each county
  • Develop an elder care strategy, building on existing knowledge in gerontology
  • Further develop individualised budgeting for care services to give recipients more autonomy and choice, and increase funding for personal assistance services (including in educational settings) and housing adaptation grants
  • Improve services for people with neurodiversity, including breaking down barriers to social inclusion and employment, as well as providing healthcare services

The Green Party

The Green Party Election 2020 Manifesto can be read here. Key points for family carers include;

 

  • Review the Fair Deal Scheme to incentivise people to rent out empty properties
  • Introduce a trial study of Universal Basic Income 
  • Promote carer-led service provision through consultation to ensure that the most appropriate services and supports are put in place
  • Entitle full time carers to 360 credits’ worth of free long-distance learning under the internationally recognised Credit Accumulation and Transfer scheme for recognised and accredited third level institutions
  • Raise both the basic rate of payment of Carer’s Allowance and the scheme’s earnings disregard
  • Support the move to a Total Contributions Approach for calculating eligibility for the State contributory pension that values the work of carers. (We) Believe that the allowance for home caring should amount to at least 20 years’ worth of care over the recipient’s lifetime.
  • Provide adequate respite care places and staff in a flexible manner for families dealing with disability.
  • Ensure that all children with disabilities or who have other additional needs get support to access early years support services
  • Guarantee a right to ‘age in place’. This is comprised of a right to housing and a right to home care.
  • An urgent review of Nursing Home Support (Fair Deal) Scheme and the upgrading, renovation and retrofitting of existing facilities ahead of bed closures
  • Ensure that the climate action necessary for a bright future does not disproportionately affect vulnerable older people
  • Urgent review of the private provision of Home Care to people with additional needs
  • Creation of specific services for people with disabilities who live in rural settings in current and future budgets and transport policies
  • Increase the level of paid parental leave to allow men to share with women in caring for children or relatives and running homes
  • Support SlainteCare

Social Democrats

The Social Democrats have a 10-year manifesto as published on their website here. Their core focus in health is supporting SlainteCare. Some key points for family carers include; 

1) Improving personal assistant and other individualised social care services so that people with disabilities can live independently

2) Introducing a statutory right to Home Care 

3) Introducing a Cost of Disability payment

4) Amending rules so that more people can qualify for Carers’ supports.

Their Health Manifesto was published on 17th January, and can be read here. Some key points from this document include; 

  • The implementation of Sláintecare will mean that patients will be seen quicker, that everyone will be treated according to their need and not their ability to pay, and health problems will be prevented rather than allowed to fester at greater cost to patients and the tax-payer in the long-run (P5)
  • Abolition of Home Care waiting lists through investment in providing home care packages and step down facilities (P6)
  • The phased extension of free GP Care including a new GP contract and the recruitment of salaried GPs by the health service (P6)
  • Additional funding for dementia and Alzheimer’s services and for palliative care (P6)
  • Improvements in a range of supports for people with disabilities including extra personal assistant hours and an assistive technology passport plus set aside funding to allow for the full monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (P6)
  • Investment in neurological services (P6)
  • Roll-out of chronic care programmes such as for asthma and arthritis (P6) 
  • Additional funding for mental health including counselling, community programmes, and adult mental health teams (P6) 
  • Extra funding for addiction and dual diagnosis services beginning with the restoration of Drug and Alcohol Task Force funding to pre-austerity levels, creating an emerging needs fund, and dealing with the developing crack cocaine epidemic (P6) 
  • Improved funding for housing adaptation grants (P6) 
  • Recruitment of extra psychologists for the National Educational Psychology Service (P7)

Their full General Election Manifesto 'Invest in Better', was launched on 1st February and can be read here. Key points not included in previous sector specific manifestos include; 

  • Designated developments for older people 
  • Reform the planning law to ensure that older persons housing is provided as part of every new development 
  • Promote the uptake of adaptation and mobility aids grants to enable independent living for persons with disabilities
  • Immediately expedite the recruitment of 1,000 therapists and other front line healthcare workers
  • Recognise the frequent need to treat mental health conditions and addiction simultaneously, and ensure appropriate availability of dual diagnosis services throughout the country
  • Base the position of a Super Junior Minister for Disabilities in the Department of the Taoiseach to ensure a whole of Government, cross departmental approach to disability
  • Fully commence the Disability Act 2005 and the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015
  • Pass legislation including the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 and new legislation on the Deprivation of Liberty
  • Sign the Optional Protocol of the UNCRPD
  • Introduce a statutory right to Home Care and Personal Assistance
  • Commence in full the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and the Irish Sign Language Act 2017
  • Establish that the term “subject to resources” shall be interpreted as being relative to the entire resources of the State, taking account that current disability supports are already relatively disadvantaged
  • Fund sufficient staff so that the implementation of the UNCRPD can be effectively monitored
  • Put in place a fit for purpose planning infrastructure and a stream of additional supports for People with Disabilities to deal with housing, transport, poverty, health access, and several other areas of concern
  • Overhaul and modernise the means testing and financial compensation to family carers of people with long term incapacitating disabilities, and review the option to provide
  • Refundable Tax Credits and PRSI Pension rights to those with limited earnings capacity due to performance of their caring role
  • Improve regulations and funding conditions so that access to buses, trains, and taxis is vastly improved for people with disabilities
  • Improve financial supports for disabled transport users, including the reintroduction of a mobility grant scheme
  • Amend rules so that more people can qualify for Carers’ Allowance, introduce better training for carers of people with high needs, and improve supports for carers in terms of training, respite and respite options
  • Develop and publish a National Strategy for Autism
  • Implement the National Dementia Strategy (NDS)
  • Reverse the recent unacceptable cut to disability services in the HSE 2020 service plan
  • Improve personal assistant and other individualised social care services so that people with disabilities can live independently
  • Increase funding to 10% of health budget for Mental Health
  • Raise the medical card income disregard for people with
  • disabilities who are at work
  • Introduce a Cost of Disability Payment;
  • Examine extending the Home Carers’ Scheme to pensioners born before 1 September 1946
  • Scrap the habitual residency condition for Carers payments

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein published a policy document on family carers in June 2019 (available here). 

Key points include; 

1) A new and updated National Carers’ Strategy with a dedicated budget and timeframe to ensure the implementation of all actions to be published in 2019

2) Base the financial assessment for Carer’s Allowance on net, not gross income, in line with the assessment of earnings under Carer’s Benefit

3) Extend the allowable deductions in the means assessment for Carer’s Allowance to give consideration to dependent children in the household, rent/mortgage payments, and medical costs

4) Careful review of the new Total Contribution Approach to pensions with caring organisations to ensure that the new approach to the State Pension supports and rewards Carers

Sinn Fein published their Election 2020 Manifesto on 28 January, and it can be read here. Main points for family carers include; 

  • 2,500 more nurses and midwives and 1,000 more doctors and consultants
  • Deliver 12 million additional home help hours over the term of the government to clear the waiting list
  • Increasing funding to the Access Inclusion Model
  • Reducing waiting times for assessments and resourcing supports for students with special educational needs, including proper access to therapies.
  • Providing funding for the recruitment of 500 additional SNAs and 450 additional resource teachers over and above those required to meet demographic pressures
  • Establishing an initial panel of 200 speech and language therapists for schools as a shared resource
  • Beginning the implementation of Sláintecare
  • Providing medical cards to cancer patients
  • Delivering free hospital car parking
  • Deliver free GP care for all over a term of Government, commencing with two free visits for everybody that is not covered by a medical or GP visit card in year one
  • Abolish prescription charges and roll-out free prescription medicines for all
  • Introduce a statutory home-care scheme
  • Increasing step-down facilities
  • Increasing the number of nursing home beds by 1,250 over term of Government
  • Implementing the National Rare Disease Plan
  • Introducing a dedicated approval process for drugs for rare diseases in which patients and clinicians have a voice and defined role
  • Establishing an all island rare diseases registry
  • Ensuring all-Ireland representation on the Rare Diseases Technology Review Group
  • Finalise, publish and ensure funding for a new National Stroke Strategy
  • Commission a new National Cardiovascular Health Policy to replace the National Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010 – 2019
  • Publishing an implementation plan to deliver A Vision for Change in full with additional funding of €1.2 billion
  • Increasing child and adolescent mental health teams to 100 and fully staff them
  • Implementing recommendations of the Oireachtas Future of Mental Health Care Committee and Sláintecare
  • Legislating for Advanced Care Directives
  • Developing an Autism Empowerment Strategy
  • Increase funding for the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with Disabilities scheme by 100% 
  • Guaranteeing secure medical cards for people with disabilities
  • Increasing respite care services by 20%
  • Developing neuro-rehabilitation teams and transitional units
  • Recruitment of 500 additional SNAs and 450 additional Resource Teachers over and above those required to meet demographic pressures
  • Establishing an initial panel of 200 speech and language therapists for schools as a shared resource
  • Implementing the National Positive Ageing Strategy
  • Implementing the National Dementia Strategy and developing a follow-up strategy
  • Ensuring access to dementia-specific home care
  • Training throughout the health and social care services for staff dealing with people with dementia
  • Increasing funding for housing adaptations
  • Integrate dementia into the Chronic Disease Management Programme
  • Protect the Free Travel Pass and increase the state pension rate by €20 over the term of government
  • Increasing the Disability Allowance Payment rate to €265
  • Developing and publishing a new and updated National Carers’ Strategy with a dedicated budget and timeframe to ensure the implementation of all actions
  • Increasing the Carers Allowance and Benefit rate from €219 to €255
  • Increasing the annual Carer’s Support Grant to €2,000

Solidarity 

From their website January 2020;

1) a free, publicly funded national health service

Manifesto requested

 


People Before Profit (PBP) 

People Before Profit launched their Manifesto in January 2020, and it can be read here

 

 

Key points include; 

  • Fight for a national health service, free at the point of use, publicly owned and democratically run
  • Hire more frontline staff
  • Increase pay to cut hospital waiting lists
  • Ensure public transport is accessible to all
  • Hire more Special Needs Assistants
  • Guarantee early assessment and intervention for autism and disabilities
  • Abolish the HSE and replace it with democratically elected
  • Community Health Councils
  • Create an Independent Agency of Public Health Promotion that works with a responsible and accountable Department of Health to coordinate an effective and efficient health service
  • Create a network of community primary care centres and provid free GP care for all
  • Align these primary care centres to a community-based system of social care
  • Guarantee access to healthcare within 18 weeks
  • Create a publicly-funded online GP service
  • Abolish car parking charges in hospitals
  • Provide proper supports for those with autism and those with dementia
  • Increase the state pension to €260 per week
  • Defend free travel.
  • Restore the fuel allowance, telephone allowance and Household Benefit package
  • Increase the winter fuel allowance by two weeks
  • Increase basic rates of welfare by €10 per week
  • Reverse all cuts that people with disabilities have suffered under consecutive governments
  • Provide a universal health service free at the point of delivery, funded by progressive taxation and democratically planned by health workers and service users, which emphasises prevention and social support
  • Protect wages and conditions for social-care workers and full support for home carers, including proper provision for respite

Aontu

Aontu are in opposition to SlainteCare. 

From their website (January 2020) (Manifesto requested); 

Closer integration of acute and community care (including home care provision)

 


From the Renua website, January 2020 (manifesto requested): 

 

 

 

 

  • Increasing the Home Carer tax credits for families
  • Invest in post-natal palliative care to provide families whose children have been born with life-limiting conditions the help and support they need
  • Supports the development of hospice care throughout Ireland to provide a positive alternative to euthanasia for those who are terminally ill.
  • Set up an urgent review of hospice care capacity in Ireland provide funding for the expansion of hospice care
  • Support a Disability Policy that puts the person at the centre of decision making and funding.
  • Review of the Fair Deal Scheme
  • Convene ‘Good Friday Agreement’ style talks to tackle the national emergency in our health service.

National party

Website available here. Manifesto requested.