The Taoiseach has described the suffering of many home carers and their families as a 'shocking indictment on society' in the Dáil today.

Enda Kenny was answering questions arising from last night's RTÉ's Prime Time Investigates programme where it showed that 82% of family carers have been affected by cutbacks in State services.

The Carers Association is calling on the Government to introduce a strategy that will allow for the long-term continuation of care giving in the home.

The investigative report backs up the association's own findings that many family carers are living in poverty and extremely difficult circumstances as a result of Government cutbacks.

Spokesperson Catherine Cox says many family carers are living below the poverty line.

She said: 'Families are literally skipping meals to keep their heads above water. Viewers may be shocked by the report's findings but the Carers Association is already aware that this kind of hardship is commonplace for many family carers.'

A spokesperson for the Minister for Health has said the Government will 'find a way of refocusing priorities, thus ensuring carers are cared for'.

'The distressing scenes shown on TV last night hammer home the reality of the consequences of a dysfunctional health service,' the spokesperson added.

The report also found that almost a quarter of carers have suffered health problems from an overburden of work.

Ms Cox said: 'We know there are more cuts to come with no regard or appreciation for the role of family carers who are providing vital and often round-the-clock care.

'These cuts are forcing carers to place their loved ones in hospital or residential care settings, costing Government more and going against stated Government policy of supporting the care of older people and those with disabilities in the home.

'Family carers have taken as much as they can. This is a call for action from our new Government.

'We simply cannot continue to ignore this burning issue and we want the immediate completion and implementation of the National Carers Strategy', Ms Cox said.

'This strategy is crucial for the long term continuation of care in the home, putting in place practical supports and services for family carers including in-home respite, needs assessment for family carers, financial and emotional support and timely information provision.'