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Introduction and Key Findings

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This publication relating to “Carers and Social Supports” provides data and insights on Carers in Ireland (who they are, how many hours of caring they provide, etc.) and the extent to which people in Ireland can rely on informal social supports (assistance from neighbours for example). The publication also outlines, for those aged 65 years and older, the extent to which they experience difficulties with certain personal care and household activities.

The data in this publication was collected as part of the “Irish Health Survey” in 2019 and early 2020. The first health survey was collected for reference year 2015, but in a different way to how the data was collected for this publication – more detail on this follows. The detail in this publication is a subset of the broader data collected, and the “Main Results” publication is to be published on December 11th. This publication will outline various aspects of health in Ireland (health status of people in Ireland, their engagement with the health system and health determinants). Finally, on December 14th there will be a publication on the health experience of persons with disabilities. Again, this last publication is a subset of the main data collection for the Irish Health Survey.

The survey is based on self-reported data from persons aged 15 years and over, and outlines their view of their health status, the informal social supports available to them, and the extent to which they encounter (for persons aged 65 years and over) difficulties in performing personal care (for example, eating, dressing themselves, showering) or household activities (for example, performing housework or shopping). The data collection for this publication was conducted between July 2019 and February 2020 and accordingly relates to the pre-pandemic health and other experiences of respondents.

Note on methodology and 2019 & 2015 Irish Health Survey results:  

This publication outlines the results of the 2019 Irish Health Survey. The survey data was collected via an interviewer administered interview where respondents were asked questions on their health status and health experiences. There is a risk when asking sensitive questions that some form of “social desirability bias” may be present, where the respondent may not feel entirely comfortable in giving an ‘accurate’ picture of their experiences. Additionally, it is important to note that respondents are being asked detailed health and other questions which may have led to some comprehension or recall issues, despite the best efforts of our field staff in assisting with the completion of the survey. It is the respondent’s own account of their health and other experiences which are being reported in this publication. It may be the case that some of this understanding could differ to what their medical professional would record. Accordingly, users are asked to exercise judgement in the analysis of the data in this publication and to be aware of the underlying methodology of the survey. The 2015 Irish Health Survey was administered via a self-completion questionnaire. Given this fundamental difference in how the data was collected in 2015 & 2019, any direct comparison between the 2019 results in this publication and the 2015 results available on the CSO website would need careful consideration.

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 Of those aged 15 years and over:

  • 8-in-10 report that they have more than 3 persons they can rely on in the event of a serious problem. See Table 2.1.
  • 9-in-10 feel that others show Some or A lot of concern and interest in what they are doing. See Table 2.2.
  • Three-quarters report they find it Easy or very easy to get practical help from neighbours. See Table 2.3.
  • Close to 1-in-8 persons aged 15 years and over provide care. See Table 3.1.
  • More females (14%) than males (11%) are carers. See Table 3.1.
  • 19% of carers report some form of depression compared to 13% of non-carers. See Table 3.3 and Figure 3.3.

Of those aged 65 years and over:

  • 4-in-10 report some degree of difficulty with doing heavy housework. See Table 4.4.
  • 9-in-10 report no difficulty with managing their medication. See Table 4.4.

Go to next chapter:  Social Supports