New report shines spotlight on carer’s allowance system



The current Carer’s Allowance system urgently needs “new oversight” because a “small minority of recipients” are “blatantly abusing” it, Sage Advocacy has warned.

A report published Wednesday 05/08/2020 by the organisation, which is a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, highlights that many dedicated family carers, who receive Carer’s Allowance payments, not only provide excellent care but “go above and beyond the call of duty’’.

However the Providing Care to Vulnerable Adults Living at Home: Need for More Oversight of Carer’s Allowance System report also details in depth how the current system is susceptible to abuse.

The Carer’s Allowance system costs the tax payer in the region of €1.2 billion annually. Research suggests there are an estimated 375,000 carers in the country – but only one in five receive a Carer’s Allowance payment.

Michael Cahillane, Sage Advocacy’s regional co-ordinator for Kerry & Cork West who compiled the report, believes the current lack of oversight can lead to the ‘’financial abuse and maltreatment’’ of people who have been assessed as needing full-time care.

Mr Cahillane, said: ‘‘’We need to move away from the focus on the financial aspect of eligibility for Carer’s Allowance and put much more emphasis on the quality of care being actually provided.

‘’What we have found, through our case work, is that sometimes very vulnerable people, who rely very heavily on the carer, for example because they are a close family relative, are reluctant to complain or report poor quality or non-existent care.’’

Mr Cahillane believes the role of a carer in our society is set to assume a greater importance as demand increases because of Ireland’s aging population.

He said: ‘’It is vital that we appreciate and support the role of the carer and put in place a structure to better protect both the care recipient and the care giver.
‘’The current level of payments is too low to replace an income in a meaningful way – in Sweden, for example, carers are paid a wage equivalent to a regular care worker in the health system.’’

Sage Advocacy is recommending that a number of new initiatives be introduced to address the current lack of oversight of the Carer’s Allowance system.

These include:
• Mandatory standardised regulation should be established.
• A monitoring process should be put in place from the beginning of the granting of Carer’s Allowance with the prior knowledge of both the care provider and the care recipient.
• Training and education should be provided to Carer’s Allowance recipients at the outset and on a regular basis.
• A proper monitoring and reporting structure should be in place ensuring that a link person is available to the vulnerable persons (care recipients) as required.
• Garda vetting of Carer’s Allowance recipients should be mandatory.
• A transparent complaints process should be available to both care recipients and care providers.
• Training and education should be provided to Carer’s Allowance recipients at the outset and on a regular basis.

A copy of the report has been sent to Heather Humphreys TD, the Minister for Social Protection, Community and Rural Development.

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