People who are full-time carers have spoken about how the Covid-19 emergency is affecting them. 

Jane Johnstone from Wexford cares for her two sons. 

Evan, 19, has autism, is non-verbal and has profound intellectual disabilities. He is 1.93m (6'4") and has 50% vision. She said he does not understand that Covid-19 means that the family has to stay at home. 

Her other son, 15-year-old Daniel, also has autism but "has some understanding that the world is closed", she said. 

Ms Johnstone said she lives "day to day" but said "the structure and routine that we depend on to negotiate our lives has been withdrawn due to Covid-19." 

She described Evan as a "gentle giant" but said his behaviour is particularly challenging at the moment. 

"When routine has been withdrawn this disrupts his sleep patterns. You may hear it in my voice but we just got to sleep at 4.30am this morning, so we're just getting through the days, one day at a time." 

She is worried about life after the virus, as, "recessions haven't worked out well for family carers." 

She said: "The 355,000 of us are the invisible workforce, keeping those we care for well and out of hospital." 

Ms Johnstone's husband Rod died in 2014 aged 50 and "his absence is forever present in our home, no more than it is now." 

She said: "He worked full time inside and outside the home, but he was the one that looked after me, checking if I was okay." 

She commended the work of Family Carers Ireland, who she said provided much need hand sanitiser. 

The use of hand sanitiser on her boys, she said, "alleviates behaviours" by not having to bring them frequently to the sink to wash their hands. 

Ms Johnstone outlined that she has a close community of friends and neighbours who, she said, are always offering to help out. 

But, she said: "Every carer tends not to ask for that help, because you are always waiting for that time when you're absolutely in a crisis and you hold out because you know that time might come." 

She added: "There were two SNAs who worked with my sons when they were little. The other day they left Easter bunnies and coffee for me at the door.  It's those little things that people do as a community that reminds me that I'm not on my own." 

Brenda O'Connell is a full time carer for her five-year-old son Fionn. 

She has Lupus, and is immuno-suppressed, which is making carrying out day-to-day tasks more difficult. 

"With my underlying conditions I just can't say goodbye to my nurses just yet.  I don't know how long I could stay up all night. When Fionn is going through a phase, when he is agitated, he can cry and scream for six or seven days. I won't sleep at all those nights." 

She too commended the work of Family Carers Ireland in helping to secure gloves and hand sanitising gel, and more recently she received some aprons for the nursing staff, but said she still feels guilty for having them come to her home during Covid-19. 

"I feel really bad for having to keep the nurses coming, but I genuinely can't cope." 

Maire-Anne Doyle, is a full time carer for her 90-year-old father who has vascular dementia, after being diagnosed six years ago. 

She said her father's routine has been significantly restricted but "I'm carrying on as best I can, getting his breakfast, lunch and dinner." 

He has "constant questions", she said and she relies heavily on a white board which displays his routine, and also that "Leo Varadkar has told us all to stay home". 

She said she feels helpless sometimes, and guilt that she may be bringing the virus back in to the home after she goes out shopping. 

Her Dad is remarking daily, she said, at how full the newspaper death notices are. 

"He remarks that three pages were full of death notices. And then he repeats that over and over again." 

She said she is no longer receiving the daily hour of assistance from the Health Service Executive due to Covid-19. 

Ms Doyle commended the Alzheimer's Society's dedicated helpline, which she said is helping her to "stay in the now." 

"It is so full of hope, and specific comforting knowledge. They say to only deal in the now and not go down the black hole of what if. Nothing can be predicted, and so we have to have flexibility."