Carers: The costs, the savings, and the unmet needs – from housing to home help.


I’ve often thought that the way to get any Government to listen is to put it in terms they understand – MONEY. So, I will discuss here the costs – and the savings – to the Government when it comes to full time family carers such as myself.

May they actually listen…and then begin to make much needed reforms to help the carers of Ireland.


The most a carer on Carer’s Allowance receives per year is €10,868. There are very important points to highlight regarding this payment:

  • Only 25% of Ireland’s unpaid carers are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance
  • To receive this allowance, the family carer must be working full time (35+ hours per week) providing care.
  • This is the only social welfare payment requiring full time work in order to receive it. Mind you, that work is in the home, unpaid, and precludes the carer from working outside the home and as such restricts them from contributing to a pension via employment.
  • Carer’s Allowance is means tested.
  • 1 in 10 people in Ireland is a family carer.
  • The State spends €11m less on homecare compared to 2008.



Family carers provide 16 million hours of unpaid caring each week in Ireland. Imagine if family carers were to stop providing those 16 million hours of unpaid caring each week in Ireland. What would be the consequence to the Government and our healthcare system?

  • Our healthcare system simply could not handle accommodating the care needs of tens of thousands of people currently being cared for at home by family carers if family carers were to choose not to provide, or were no longer able to provide, in home care. As such, family carers save the State billions each year and keep the healthcare system from totally collapsing.
  • The average daily nursing home care costs €167 vs. average daily in home care costs of €45.
  • Public nursing home care cost average €1,407 per week. Compare that to the weekly cost of a home care package which would range on average from €350 – €500, depending on the level of care required.
  • Inpatient, public, acute hospital care costs average €6,365 per week.
  • As I stated above, family carers provide 16 million hours of unpaid caring each week in Ireland.  If those services were purchased, rather than provided by unpaid carers, it would cost the State €10 billion per year – a figure that is 10 times what the Department of Social Protection pays to carers.
  • In other words, a family carer who receives the full Carer’s Allowance at €10,868 annually, provides €66,500 worth of services annually.
  • (note: many of us, like myself, only receive half-carer’s allowance, and 3/4 of carers do not receive Carer’s Allowance at all)



Many of us who have a family member with disability are stuck in unsuitable – and often dangerous – living situations. Our loved ones are often left without many basic care needs such as access to proper hygienic bathing equipment, safe methods of transferring, proper sleeping arrangements or systems, and much more. I know parents who sleep in the kitchen or dining area just to be near their child with disability. I know parents who receive no in home help or respite at all. I know parents who are trapped in homes that are a danger to not only them, but also to their disabled child.

  • Modification grants only apply if you are fortunate enough to own your own home, but as you remind yourself of the above financial figures, you can see why homeownership is but a dream for many carers like myself.
  • HAP is an utter failure for families with a disabled family member who require a specially modified home – the homes simply are not the type found in the private rental market which is in crisis, over-priced, overly-competitive and lacks any security of tenure.
  • Social housing finds families like mine waiting years, clawing up the waitlist against other families who are also in desperate need of specially modified housing (and what a cruel position to be forced into against each other, might I add).

County Councils are acquiring homes for social housing, but at what rate? And, when it comes to those of us who need those specially modified homes…most likely bungalows, an even harder find…how often are those type of homes being bought?

I look back to just 9 months ago when the Dublin CoCo purchased 19 luxury apartments in Marianella to be used in their social housing supply. The prices of each apartment ranged from €270,000 to a staggering €480,000. EACH. While I understand that housing prices in that area of the country are more than in the area I live in, I still have to question the rationale for such an expenditure.

And in turn, I have to wonder why I was told that the already modified, disability suitable bungalow for sale only 5 minutes away from where I currently live, is “over the allowed acquisition price” when it is barely over the €270,000 figure paid for a 2 bedroom apartment in Dublin. WHY? I must ask why, especially considering that families like mine require these modified homes for the safe care of our disabled loved ones.

Specially modified, fully suitable, homes should be considered
as necessary medical equipment for people
with severe disability and profound care needs. 

For the price of one 2-bedroom luxury apartment in south Dublin, the same funding amount could purchase a modified, forever home for a family like mine so that they can safely and humanely care for their loved one with disabilities.

To any Government officials who just might read this humble blog post, I ask you to remember that the tens of thousands of unpaid family carers across Ireland are indeed saving the State billions of euro each and every year.  We deserve far better, as do those beloved family members we have dedicated our lives to caring for, day in…day out…

house in hands


* Credit for all statistics regarding carers, Carer’s Allowance, and related figures, goes to Family Carers Ireland via their report entitled Economic Value of Care – Why Carers Count. Many thanks for allowing me to utilise their report for the writing of this article.

One thought on “Carers: The costs, the savings, and the unmet needs – from housing to home help.

  1. theraggedwagon

    Politicians/Govt. officials are such patronising little twits really – more apt to pat themselves on the back …. for the very little they do for carers.

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