Making child and elder care work - Kara McGann
I was delighted to record an episode of "Business at the Ballot Box" on child and elder care with Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone and Brendan Courtney, designer and producer. Following on from our discussion, my key takeaways concerned the need for real and urgent focused investment in both ends of the care spectrum. Our record of childcare supports, and provision of homecare services is one of the worst in Europe and this is something that will impact individuals, families, employees and employers while also challenging labour market participation, quality of life, absenteeism, and productivity.
So what do we need to do?
1. We need targeted investment in early childhood care and learning with a new funding model to ensure a quality, affordable and sustainable model of early learning and care that works for all stakeholders (children, parents, providers and employees). Ideally, we need to see that reach 1% of GDP over the next five years.
2. On the elder care side, we need to address the structures within the elder and home care sector to ensure the various parts are working in tandem. This should include an examination of funding, staffing, regulation, how care needs are assessed, how services are provided and the sustainability of quality care. We also need to take care of the 35,5000 informal carers who are providing an essential service by prioritising supports for them such as expanding respite care hours.
3. Finally, we need to tackle the issue of care as a matter of urgency as by 2030, 1 in 5 people in Ireland will be in a family caring role so this is likely to impact every workplace and most employees at some time in their working lives. This is a particular challenge for members of the “sandwich” generation who find themselves caring for both children and older relatives at the same time and often trying to remain in employment.