Greens call for support for carers and child protection workers during Covid-19
Green Party Spokesperson for Children Patrick Costello TD has called on the Minister to do more to protect vulnerable people in society during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
In his maiden speech in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Costello highlighted two groups in need of extra support – carers for vulnerable people at home, and children in need of child protection services.
Highlighting the lack of PPE for carers, Deputy Costello stated: “There is a wide variety of NGO’s, community groups, volunteer organisations, carers and family carers supporting vulnerable people in the community. There is a clear need for a full PPE needs assessment for carers, and they should be given clear indication of where and when they will get this PPE."
A lack of PPE puts social workers doing home visits to children at risk of getting sick, which puts the child protection system at risk if staffing levels become dangerously depleted. Deputy Costello said: “We need plentiful supply of basic things like gloves and hand sanitiser; we need to keep staff healthy so they can keep doing this vital work. This is all the more important since many of the supports for children at risk, such as teachers, coaches, youth workers, aren't present in the child's life anymore due to social distancing."
Deputy Costello said additional support was all the more important now with the news that home care packages were being withdrawn so carers could be redeployed to nursing homes that were short-staffed as a result of staff illness: "A home care package can make all the difference to a person's quality of life, and the loss will be devastating. The Minister and the HSE need to show how they will meet the demand for support for vulnerable people now they are pulling carers from their work.”
Deputy Neasa Hourigan - herself a family carer and a meal-on-wheels volunteer - has been assisting community groups in accessing supports, including PPE. Deputy Hourigan stated: “These organisations fill a gap in the care provided by the state to vulnerable citizens. In an ideal world these services would be provided by the state. I feel that it is incumbent on the state not to simply abandon these organisations during this difficult period.”