The Irish Times has reported that 80 per cent of Irish carers have experienced cuts to home care packages within the past three years, according a survey conducted by Care Alliance Ireland.

At Be Independent Home Care, both from working on the ground in the community and talking to members of The Carers Association at our complimentary Wellness talks we are not surprised by these findings.

The Irish Times report goes on to say “ The survey of 170 carers also revealed 77 per cent of respondents had been impacted by cuts to respite services, while 70 per cent were affected by cuts to home help within the past three years.Home Care Packages are a set of services provided by the HSE on a discretionary basis to help an older person to be cared for in their own home. The scheme encompasses a wide range of supports like nursing visits, physiotherapy or occupational therapy.

Speaking at the launch of National Carer’s Week, which will see 150 events taking place nationwide to celebrate the efforts of family carers, Care Alliance Ireland executive director Liam O’Sullivan outlined the difficulties faced by the 187,000 voluntary carers across the country.

“It is clear from this survey that successive cuts to supports for family carers are creating a climate of worry, uncertainty and distress,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“This is very disappointing in light of the publication in 2012 of the National Carers Strategy, which explicitly commits to valuing the role of family carers in Ireland.” Mr O’Sullivan also said the recent medical cards controversy has caused much anxiety to many carers.

Care Alliance Ireland will be one of a number of groups meeting Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Older People and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch today. (TUESDAY).

It is estimated family carers provide over six million hours of care each week, with Census 2011 showing four per cent of Ireland’s adults are providing unpaid assistance to others.

An emerging trend is the number of children who are voluntary carers, with 4,228 looking after a family member, according to the latest census figures.

Niamh Duffy from Midleton, Co Cork, looks after her autistic younger brother Finn. The 14-year-old’s commitment and dedication was recognised when she was awarded Care Alliance Ireland’s young carer of the year in 2013, but the modest teen is just happy to lend a helping hand.

“It takes up a lot of time, so sometimes if my friends were doing something you might have to not go out with them, but he’s my brother and I’ll always do what I can to help him,” said Ms Duffy, who herself suffers ongoing chronic bone pain as a result of a condition called Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis