Why do family carers keep on going?

A series of workshops are to be hosted nationwide this month, including in Cork, to promote resilience for carers of people with dementia. Kevin Deegan Project Assistant with Care Alliance Ireland, explains more
Why do family carers keep on going?
Fair City actors Bryan Murray and Una Crawford O'Brien, supporting carers.

A FAMILY carer is someone who provides regular, unpaid personal help for a friend or family member who suffers with a long-term illness, health problem or disability.

Approximately 360,000 people, or 10% of the adult population, are caring for a loved one. This is also set to increase in the coming decades as the age of the population of Ireland steadily increases, as 1.4 million people in the Republic of Ireland will be aged 65+.

While most family carers provide care for their ageing parents or children with high support needs, one of the largest groups of family carers is involves caring for people with dementia. There are an estimated 50,000 people caring for a loved one with dementia in Ireland today. Many of these are family carers who care for people with dementia.

Dementia is caused by many diseases that damage the nerve cells in the brain. There is a lack of knowledge when it comes to understanding dementia and this can make it difficult for people with dementia and also their family carers.

Family carers face numerous challenges in day to day lives, none more so than those who care for people with dementia. On average, family carers provide 45 hours of care a week, while often continuing full time employment as many family carers are not in receipt of Carers Allowance. One third of family carers are working full time.

Caring for a loved one has many impacts on both mental and physical health, financial security and the social lives of carers. As a result, family carers are often required to be resilient in the face of much adversity in order to provide care.

Over the last two years, University College Dublin (UCD) has been conducting a research project that aims to gain a deeper understanding of dementia but to also understand the concept of resilience in family carers of people with dementia. This project is aimed at promoting the resilience of family carers of people with dementia and to do such a thing, the research team led by Professor Gerard Fealy, have been working over the previous two years with a group of family carers to design a resource to enhance carer resilience.

In order to promote resilience, we first needed to understand what resilience is as a concept, but to also understand resilience as a concept from the perspective of a family carer of a person with dementia. Why do family carers of people with dementia keep going? How do they do it? Is it seen as just another familial duty or is it a more of a job that needs to be filled?

Funded by the Health Research Board (HRB), in partnership with Care Alliance Ireland and in collaboration with Family Carers Ireland and The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, this project is developing a tailored Enhancing Carer’s Resilience (EnCaRe) resource for family caregivers of people with dementia. Over the course of the two years of conducting much research, we have learned a lot and we have designed a resource to enhance carer resilience. In the coming months we would like to share what we have learned with the wider public.

Over the coming months, Care Alliance Ireland is coordinating six regional workshops to invite family carers of people with dementia to take part in these discussions about the concept of resilience and to learn more about the research project. In these workshops, we will share the outputs and knowledge from the project with family carers and we will be seeking feedback. In doing so, we aim to gather as much feedback about this new resource from a wider range of people who care for their loved ones. All family carers are welcome to participate in these workshops.

If you are a family carer of a person with dementia and are interested in attending one of our workshops and providing feedback about the resilience resource, then you are invited to participate. There will be a workshop in a number of locations over the coming months. from 10am to 1pm. The first was hosted earlier this month, at The Ashling Hotel. The other workshops run:

Kilkenny – The Springhill Court Hotel (September 11).

Cork – The Ambassador Hotel (September 18 ).

Limerick – Clayton Hotel Limerick (September 25).

Cavan – Cavan Crystal Hotel (October 2).

Galway – Clayton Hotel Galway (October 9).

The workshops will be conducted over a single day and should last approximately three hours.

Family carers who attend will also be reimbursed for any travel expenses or caring costs. Tea/Coffee and scones will be available in the morning, followed by lunch after the workshops are completed.

To register your interest and to learn more about these workshops, you can contact Kevin Deegan at kevin@carealliance.ie or by 085 852 9352.

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