A spokesperson for Family Carers Ireland has welcomed the new measures aimed at improving the lives of carers, but said they are "a bit of a postcode lottery".

It comes after the Department of Health said that an extra €10m is to be provided for respite care for people with disabilities.

It said €8m will provide 12 dedicated respite houses around the country, one in each community health area, plus an additional three houses in the greater Dublin area to respond to the high demand.

People who receive a carer's allowance and who do not already have a free GP visit card are due to be given the card next year.

However, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Catherine Cox said there would be 12 centres receiving additional funding but there were carers in 26 counties.

Ms Cox welcomed the introduction of the GP card but pointed out that just one in four carers receive the means-tested allowance.

She called for the free GP card for carers to be extended to all those who receive the Carer's Support Grant, which would bring around 25,000 extra carers into the net. 

Jacinta Walsh, a full-time carer for her 18-year-old son Sam who is severely autistic and learning disabled, welcomed the new measures.

She said Sam needs to have at least one person with him, 24 hours a day.

The new measures will make a big difference to her because it means Sam will be able to avail of respite, which he loves, but has not been eligible for since he was 18, Ms Walsh added.

Having respite hours, she said, will make a big difference.

Ms Walsh said she would not qualify for a GP card because her husband works but described the move as a step in the right direction. 

She said a carer's life could be very difficult, physically and mentally, which results in more GP visits for carers.

She added that she hopes the Minister for Health Simon Harris would be able to say these measures mark the first step in a continued plan to increase respite and to increase funding for young adults to eventually move into residential centres. 

Mr Harris said we need to do better by carers and the new measures mark the start of a step in the right direction.

He said that the economy is growing, which means more funding will be available to invest in helping carers.

The new measures will provide up to 19,000 additional nights respite a year from next year while up to 40,000 carers should be able to get a free GP visit card, he said.

Watch: Prime Time - Carers in Crisis