Covid-19 making loved ones' behaviour more challenging for family carers

The online survey by Family Carers Ireland found that routine medical appointments and therapies have been cancelled.
By Evelyn Ring
Irish Examiner Reporter

More than half of family carers are finding that their loved ones’ behaviour has become more challenging since the Covid-19 crisis.

An online survey of 1,307 carers by Family Carers Ireland shows how the lockdown has added more psychological pressure to an already vulnerable group.

Some are having to endure more meltdowns, outbursts, and aggressive behaviour.

“I’m worried about being hurt badly by one of my daughters,” one carer said. “Her aggression has escalated hugely since the closure of schools and restrictions. I’m black and blue.

Many worry about long-term regression and relapse in their children’s development as a result of the closure of services.

“I’m watching my kids regress before my eyes and there is nothing I can do about it,” a parent wrote.

The organisation’s head of communications, Catherine Cox, said some carers are suffering terribly as a result of routines being broken, no daycare, and not being able to get out and socialise.

A knock-on effect of Covid-19 is that routine medical appointments and therapies such as speech and language, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and psychology have been cancelled.

“It really struck me just how difficult it is for somebody who is cocooning 24/7 and trying to care for a person,” said Ms Cox.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) experienced delays in or cancellations of medical appointments, treatments, or surgery.

It also emerged that 37% worry about becoming more socially isolated and 26% worry about being able to get groceries and other essential supplies. Carers are extremely worried about the lack of contingency planning should they have to self-isolate. Many do not have anyone else to take over their caring responsibilities.

Ms Cox said: “These findings highlight the need for a total re-evaluation of how we care for the vulnerable in our society.”

Family carers are frontline workers too but they feel that they have been forgotten.

“A clear road map is needed on the reinstatement of essential services and the statutory entitlement to homecare must become a reality,” said Ms Cox.