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The value of unpaid care in Ireland, and how economic consequence varies by social, economic and health condition

Professor Dominic Trépel, Director of Trépel Lab, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and School of Medicine is the recipient of one of four Irish Research Council New Foundations 2022 awards for the school.

In Ireland, there are approximately 500,000 family carers who play a vital role in supporting people with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.

Whilst supplying a critical part of the overall arrangement of care, these carers feel invisible and often unrecognised for all that they do. Family Carers Ireland (FCI)’s mission is to advocate for Irish carers. In their Pre-Budget Submission 2023, the charity lobbied for an urgent review of Carer’s Allowance calling for fundamental reforms including the “abolition of the means-test or the establishment of a Participation Income for carers”.

Professor Dominic Trépel, Director of Trépel Lab, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and School of Medicine is a newly-announced recipient of the Irish Research Council’s New Foundation 2022 awards (Strand 1a: Enhancing Civic Society within a national context). New Foundations awards are designed to help civic society organisations and Government departments to devise evidence-based strategies and policies. 

This award will enable Dominic and his team to drive forward real world impact and benefits for those caring for family members and loved ones.

The project: VALUE-CARE: The VALUE of unpaid CARE in Ireland, and how economic consequence varies by social, economic and health condition is based on responses from 1,400 Irish carers surveyed in 2022, and aims to provide up-to-date estimates of the economic value that carers are providing. The outputs will be influential in many ongoing high-level policy and legislative discussions.

The award plans to deliver the following strategic outputs with a vision of driving forward several key outcomes. Specifically:

  1. Research report including a lay summary of findings, and a formal launch inviting decision-makers and relevant stakeholders
  2. Policy submission to illustrate the disparities between valuation of informal care compared to the funding allocated to long-term care and formal community-based care.
  3. Peer-review journal articles : A research protocol will be published by February and academic findings submitted by June.


  1. Policy: Generate new evidence to advance understanding of the value of informal care in Ireland
  2. Societal: Recognition of the immense financial contribution family carers make to Irish society.
  3. Academic: Impact international literature: economic valuation of care.

Dominic and his team will collaborate with Family Carer’s Ireland for this project.

Nikki Dunne, Research Manager, Family Carer’s Ireland, said:

Family Carers Ireland is delighted to be working with TCD’s School of Medicine on this important research project. Although Ireland’s health and social care system depends on family carers, their contribution is often overlooked, remains mostly invisible, unrecognised and unaccounted for in decision-making. This project seeks to address these critical gaps by building knowledge about the economic value of unpaid caring. We hope that having robust evidence about the value of this contribution will provide impetus for Government to adequately compensate family carers in Ireland.

Professor Dominic Trépel (Primary Investigator) said:

“Trépel Lab (TCD) is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Family Carers Ireland and to forge links between the voluntary sector and academic researchers with a view to providing information to direct Government decisions based on reliable estimates on the value of informal care in Ireland, and calls to review the Carer’s Allowance calling and rational for potential reform.”

The collaborators on this project are:

Dr Nikki Dunne, Research Manager, Family Carers Ireland. Role: Civic Society Partner
Dr Manuel Ruiz-Adame, Research Fellow, Trépel Lab. Role: Health Economic Researcher
Clare Duffy (FCI): Policy & Public Affairs Manager. Role: Policy Advisor
Two family carers from FCI’s Public & Patient Involvement Panel will sit on the steering committee.

Prof Dominic Trepel