By Cate McCurry, PA
A full-time carer has said any increase in the carer’s allowance will make a “huge difference”, but said there should be better incentives for those who look after family members.
Sandra O’Brien, who has cared for her 99-year-old mother for the last five years, said a top-up on her carer’s allowance will help pay for the rise in fuel costs.
Mrs O’Brien spends up to €70 a week on diesel travelling from her home in Stamullen, Co Meath, to her mother’s home in Donnycarney, Dublin.
The Government announced in its Budget that the carer’s allowance will increase to €350 for a single person and €750 for a couple.
— Fianna Fáil (@fiannafailparty) October 12, 2021
Mrs O’Brien gave up her job as a carer in a hospital to look after her mother, Mary May Finegan.
She earns around €245 per week working 10-hour days seven days a week caring for her mother.
“Any increase will mean a huge amount as I travel 56km every day travelling to care for my mam. It is a lot of diesel money and a lot of wear and tear on the car,” she added.
“The carer’s allowance was our only income for a while after my husband was made redundant two years ago.
“I also have to pay for my children on top of that and it’s been hard. We have been scrimping and saving after we went from earning a good wage to then relying on a carer’s allowance.
“We have three children, with one in university in England, one in university in Ireland and one who is in secondary school.
“We were living hand to mouth trying to keep the three of them going on the carer’s allowance.”
Mrs O’Brien said that looking after a family member full-time is a huge burden and worry for families.
She said the hours and work she does is not reflected in the weekly allowance.
“I do her shopping, get her medication, make sure her blood is drawn every week, deal with nurses, make sure she is dressed properly among many other things,” she added.
“I have to do everything and it’s a huge burden on carers. There is no downtime.
#Budget2022 is all about helping people & families with the cost of living.
It is a pathway to a better & different future, & it will make progress in three areas:
1️⃣ Helping our country recover from Covid-19
2️⃣ Restoring our public services
3️⃣ Repairing our public finances pic.twitter.com/Odlvgzwq7o
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“Yes, I can sit and have a chat but I am always thinking of what I have to do.
“If the allowance goes up for me, the extra money is brilliant but if mam was in a nursing home, it would cost us 2,000 euro a week.
“It is huge savings to keep people in their homes so there should be a better incentive to carers to help family members stay at home.”