Cllr Paddy McDonald (SF).

Carers should get Covid jab early - McDonald

A local Sinn Féin councillor believes that family carers should, due to their role, be given priority and receive the Covid jab early should they so wish.

Paddy McDonald said when day services for elderly people, for people with disabilities and the schools all closed last year the “full burden” of care was left on the estimated 500,000-plus family carers in Ireland.

“The past year has had an unprecedented negative effect on carers,” continued Cllr McDonald, who said due the limitation on interacting, other family members could often not help out.

“After this tremendously difficult year, when the invaluable work our carers do could be recognised by inclusion in the prioritisation for the vaccine, they are left out again. Every year when the winter flu jab is administered to elderly or medically vulnerable people, the family carer is offered the vaccine at the same time. Why could this not have happened this time? I think it is imperative that the vaccine is offered to all family carers. If the carer contracts Covid, they will not be in a position to provide care and I ask you who will?”

He also called for a change to the means tested payment, the extension of carers benefit to the self-employed, and an increase in the respite support grant to bring it up to €2,000 per annum, which should come with an option of two separate payments.

He further sought the introduction of a discretionary fund to help carers cover costs linked to Covid, and the delivery of the government support of €75 per year to assist persons with medical incontinence announced in 2017.

A GP card should also be awarded to all carers in receipt of the carers support grant, while emergency talk therapy should be provided to ensure carers have access to an accredited counsellor on referral.

Concluding, he said the update and implementation of the National Carers’ Strategy, introduced in 2012 on a cost neutral basis, is “imperative”.

Cllr McDonald’s motion was supported by Cllrs Aiden Fitzpatrick (FF), TP O’Reilly (FG), Patricia Walsh (FF), Brendan Fay (Ind), Peter McVitty (FG) and Sean Smith (FF).