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Carers and people with disabilities are set to receive extra supports through improvements to GP visit card eligibility and additional funding for respite care says Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD.

“The changes for carers will mean that all carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will be eligible for a GP Visit Card. This measure will ensure that everyone who is in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and who up to now has not qualified on means or age grounds will now be able to attend a GP free of charge. It is planned that this change will be implemented in 2018, subject to the drafting and enactment of the necessary legislation.

“In addition to the changes in GP Visit Cards, an extra €10 million in funding is also being made available to provide respite care for persons with disabilities. Some €8 million will provide 12 dedicated respite houses around the country – one in each Community Health Area- plus an additional three houses in Dublin. These respite houses will provide approximately 19,000 respite nights per year. An extra €2million funding will be used for innovative respite solutions, such as Home Sharing and extended day services.

“Government recognises and acknowledges the immense sacrifices that carers make on a daily basis and the commitment and compassion that they show to ensure the continued health and well-being of their loved ones. While a caring role can be taken on without any hesitation it can, at times, compromise a carer’s own help and well-being. I hope that the additional respite funding will allow carers to take a break from caring if they need it and the GP services will ensure that carers themselves visit a doctor when they are unwell.