While continuing his local election canvass, Athlone Sinn Féin candidate, Padraig Hegarty has noted a common theme emerging pertaining to the treatment of carers.
“We have an ageing population and with a move towards more community care style models, the need for more and more carers will soon overwhelm the state but the current model is not working. In recent weeks, the issue has been raised on the Athlone doorsteps countless times. Currently, there are family members caring for loved ones, but a plethora of these carers are not entitled to the benefits of a medical card because they are marginally over the threshold of income to avail of such a servicw,” Padraig remarked.
The local election aspirant has called for an immediate review of the carers allowance to reflect upon the needs of those who look after family members in the homestead.
“This is a broken system which does not care about the individual that completes a job on behalf of the state. Carers are the back-bone and bedrock for so many individuals with disabilities and long-term sickness. We must care for them to ensure that their health is secured into the future. A review is required now to end this discrimination of income. Many carers who are over 65 years of age and in receipt of a state pension or private pension are only entitled to a disgustingly meagre payment of half carers allowance which is approximately €126 per week. Due to the double income scenario, this can prevent them from a full medical card and it only permits a GP visit card.
“People are being left with a choice, your health, or your ‘wealth’. In essence, do carers go to the doctor and put off the payment of utility bills? Do they just allow themselves to become more ill because they simply cannot afford the exorbitant medical fees? Many carers pay for other carers or services to come into the home to provide respite, this comes from their own pocket and it is alarming the number who are forced to do this monthly,” Padraig emphasised.
The first time electoral candidate has called for a full review of this policy and will continue to voice concerns at every level of Government.
“If we can allocate money to various projects, then why can we not look after the most vulnerable in our society? This Government has priorities and those struggling to make ends meet, are simply nothing more than an afterthought,” Padraig concluded.