The Government has been urged to develop incentives to encourage family carers to continue looking after their loved-ones.

The Carers Association has published a package of incentives which it claims would cost the State less than it would otherwise spend on long-stay institutions for the ageing population.

Two years ago the Census counted 150,000 family carers in the Republic, one third of which were full-time.

An allowance of just over €139 is paid to around one in eight carers, which the association says is inadequate.

In its National Strategic Plan for new and expanded services in the sector, it urges the Government to pay all carers for the work done in the home, and suggests abolishing the means test for the allowance.