In 2010 the Central Statistics Office estimated that Ireland could have as many as 274,000 family carers, an increase of almost 71 per cent on the number of carers counted in the last census in 2006. This would put the number of family carers in Westmeath now at 4,890.
The Carers Count Campaign, designed to inform carers about Census 2011, was launched last Friday. The purpose of the campaign is to make carers aware that question 22 in next month’s census, which refers to ‘unpaid help’, is about family carers. Census 2011 will take place on Sunday April 10, and provides a unique opportunity to quantify the unpaid work provided by family carers. A true picture will depend on all carers recognising that they provide ‘unpaid help’, and then accurately counting and filling in their weekly hours of care on the census form.
The exact wording of Question 22 will be: ‘Do you provide regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member, with a long term illness, health problem or disability?’.
Question 22 also requires that family carers quantify their hours of care per week. A full-time carer should quantify their care as 168 hours per week, which equals 24 hours by seven days. Care provided each weekend will be quantified as 48 hours per week (24 hours by two days ), and morning or afternoon care will equate to 28 hours per week (four hours by seven days ).
Caring hours do not only refer to hands-on care, but also to essential shopping and doctor visits or hours of essential companionship or supervision. Tools are available at www.census.ie/carerscount and the specially developed myCareTime app can be downloaded from iTunes to help family carers to track and quantify their hours.
For the first time in Ireland, Census 2011 recognises and will include persons under 15 years of age who “provide regular unpaid help” as young carers.
Information collected in the census is guaranteed by law to be completely confidential. See www.census.ie/carerscount