Our au pair is here for school holidays, last minute babysitting needs and the kids get to stay at home you, just cant beat the flexibility. <
Host family: Michelle and Michael O’Meara from Kilkenny
Current Au pair: Johanna from Germany
Number of Children/Ages:
Taking au pairs from the au pair study agency since: 2007
We have 3 young kids and we have a lot of extra curricular activities to get to, now we don’t have to load everyone into the car which is a gift, specially coming into winter!
We have help in the morning for breakfast time and getting the children ready for school.
Our au pair then helps clean up after breakfast and stays with our 1 year old, and our au pair will then come back to help us with dinner and bath time.
It’s a blessing having the help. We have also been able to have a lie on on Saturday mornings which was unheard of until we go our first au pair!
Before hosting an au pair I was relying on babysitters and family to mind Aislinn. Babysitters and childminders worked out significantly more expensive.
Host family: Orla Mowlds from Dublin South
Current Au pair: Maira from Spain
Number of Children/Ages: 1 Child aged 3
Taking au pairs from the au pair study agency since: 2010
It’s been great company having another adult around the house and I’m now able to meet my work commitments with a lot more flexibility.
To make it work you really need to make sure that you are clear about what you need and your expectations before your au pair arrives.
I wrote everything down and emailed it to Maria before she arrived and that was key in making it work.
Maria has been excellent and we will be really sorry to see her go.
She has become like a big sister to Ais and I know she is really going to miss her as will I. We cant wait to meet our next au pair.
Friends in deed for older people find out what the Irish times wrote about our au pair for senior programme
read the original article click here
Friends in deed for older people pilot programme placing au pairs with older people offers companionship as well as valued care, writes ISABEL CONWAY
‘GOD HANDPICKED this lovely caring young woman and sent her to our rescue
says Marie, whose 93-year-old uncle in Co Meath is looked after by Estrella, a Spanish au pair,
offering a lifeline to one Irish family who only discovered a new and untapped resource – the “eldercare au pair” – by chance last September.
The story is familiar: an aged bachelor, active all his life, who fell and fractured a hip joint. With nobody at home to care for him during his convalescence, he was admitted to a private nursing home.
“In less than two months in that place
, his weight dropped from over 10 stone
to seven stone, and when the surgeon who had operated saw him again, he barely recognised my uncle,” recalls his niece Marie.
“It was costing €950 a week in this nursing home
where he was supposed to be looked after properly and brought back to health. In fact, there was dreadful neglect.
We got him out just in time and took him back to his own home.”
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The abuses of the home-help system highlighted in RTÉ’s Prime Time investigation mirrored to an extent this family’s own later experience – though there was no cruelty involved.
Marie tells how the private home help they hired afterwards for her uncle was “all smiles to us, but making dinners for her husband when she should have been minding my uncle, even making her Christmas cakes there and doing as little as possible for my uncle, [although] she was earning a very good wage”.
Like many families, this one had other elderly relatives and children and teenagers, as well as jobs to juggle, so they faced a major dilemma with their uncle.
He was “by no means an easy person, fiercely independent and private” back in his own home, needing continued care, supervision and companionship too. By chance, Marie’s sister happened to access the website of the Dún Laoghaire-based Au Pair Study Centre, one of Ireland’s largest and longest-running agencies linked to language courses, and saw that they had several people on their books who were more interested in becoming an au pair “for seniors than for juniors”.
So Estrella (21), recently arrived from Spain, came into their lives and has proven “ a godsend”.
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The busy daily roster of au pair duties – often involving young children, with their specific demands and relentless energy, coupled with a lot of responsibility and other duties in households if both parents are working – is not every foreign au pair’s idea of bliss.
“We have about 12 au pairs on our books who only want to work with seniors, and there is a waiting list of recipient families, both in Dublin and in rural areas,” says Julie Kelly of the Au Pair Study Centre.
“It is an untapped form of assistance that can work ideally when properly supervised, with a realisation on both sides that patience and give and take are vital.
You notice that the connection can be great, bringing back laughter and new life into older people’s lives and homes.”
The Au Pair Study Centre has a website detailing the duties of an au pair for seniors, with suggestions that include conversation and companionship, organising and planning daily activities, preparing and serving meals, organising grocery lists and shopping, assistance with walking, logging a daily journal monitoring bodily functions, diet, activities and so on.
“Under no circumstances,” says Kelly, “should the au pair handle finances or administer any medication.”
It is still a new service to Ireland, a “pilot project” under assessment, offering the language-student au pair an affordable option – about €60 a week pocket money, with full bed and board, time off for classes and other conditions – but for the family, it compares favourably to expensive alternatives in traditional home help, she points out.
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Other agencies in Ireland are also receiving requests from foreign would-be au pairs interested in taking up positions, providing companionship and non-medical homecare for seniors who need assistance with daily living.
Ireland’s strict immigration regulations mean that many au pairs from countries outside Europe, particularly the Philippines, Malaysia, Columbia and Brazil, are not allowed in, according to Kelly.
“It is vital that the au pair service is regulated; agencies have been calling for this so that protection on both sides is there, supervision is tightly controlled and standards are maintained.”
The Netherlands and a number of other European countries where human trafficking and cheap migrant labour are increasingly hidden beneath the guise of “au pair recruitment” are working on a system of regulating the sector to prevent abuses.
In Denmark, “eldercare au pairs” are a growing trend, and expected to be regulated and given the same legal standing as au pairs for families with children.
New rules there allow retired couples who do not need special nursing care to invite a foreign au pair to live with them and do 18-30 hours per week of cleaning, cooking and shopping in exchange for room and board and a minimum of €409 per month.
Opponents claim the proposal does little for cultural exchange, arguing that many of the 3,000 au pairs in Denmark are economic migrants from countries such as the Philippines whose earnings are sent home to support their own families.
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They say an underclass of underpaid domestic workers is being created. Yet au pairs surveyed by online newspaper the Copenhagen Post were positive about the idea of eldercare openings.
One au pair from the Philippines said: “It provides a good opportunity, but it takes a good ear to listen and a gentle heart to care for the elderly.”
As for elderly people in Denmark, they were very positive in an opinion survey conducted recently about the plan.
Many said elderly couples could use the help with cleaning, cooking and gardening, but that they would enjoy the conversation also. It is a view likely to be shared by elderly people in Ireland, who might even embrace an opportunity to hone their foreign-language skills and participate in a cultural exchange, while gaining companionship and a helping hand. Some names have been changed.
Fiona Dillon looks at the cost of crèches versus au pairs and the benefits of having an au pair,with crèches costing thousands per child, many parents are looking to au pairs for suppot.
By Fiona Dillon
Monday March 21 2011
A growing number of parents are choosing au pairs over other types of childcare arrangements.
The trend has emerged as a recent study by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) found that families are paying up to €14,000 a year in crèche fees for just one child.
The NCA points out that while factors such as location, staff qualifications, play facilities and opening hours are important, affordability is now key for many parents.
The recession has seen a massive surge in demand for au pairs in this country. This group -- predominantly young women -- are paid based on the number of hours they work, which can work out at about €90 to €100 a week.
There are, of course, 'hidden costs', because they are also given full board and lodging, which must include their own bedroom.
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However, many parents welcome the fact that their children are being minded in their own home, which cuts down on a lot of rushing around.
Au pair agencies have noted an increase in the number of people seeking to come here to work as au pairs, as well as in the number of families who want an au pair.
Spanish teacher Teresa Melendro (32) who has two girls Elisa (4) and 15-month-old Marianna, says that there were a number of financial and practical factors behind the decision to explore the option of having an au pair at their Blackrock home. "It was just more convenient," she says.
"Two full-time crèche places would have been costly. To pay for the full-time crèche fees would have cost around €1,800 a month for the two girls."
Teresa, who works in St Andrew's in Blackrock, says that her husband Stephen Shortt (33) travels with his job regularly, so having someone in the house helping is appealing.
Another factor which influenced her decision was that Marianna would have been just eight months when she went to a crèche and Teresa felt that was too young.
Teresa says that she found her French au pair, Maud Lecoeur (21), through the Au Pair Study Agency in Dun Laoghaire, and Maud has been with the family since the end of last August.
"We filled in the application form last April or May and within a couple of weeks we had Maud's application form and it was perfect," says Teresa.
She says that Maud was a brilliant fit with the bi-lingual family, being able to speak some Spanish and English. "She minds Marianna in the mornings while I'm at work. She's in charge of the kids' play area and the kids' bedroom. She also looks after their clothes."
Elisa goes to pre-school, and Teresa drops her off there in the morning.
"When I come home, Maud either goes and studies for a little bit, or comes for a walk with me and the girls," says Teresa.
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In addition, Maud does babysitting duties once a week. "It's wonderful, it's incredibly handy," she says about having Maud to help out.
"We really have a great bond and the girls love her," explains Teresa, who says that Maud is part of the family. They all have dinner together.
The family converted the attic, so Maud has a big room and her own television and space. "We are very accommodating with each other," says Teresa, who believes that the relationship is based on respect.
"We respect her time and space," says Teresa, who says that laying down the ground rules at the beginning of the au pair arrangement is very important.
Teresa says that her experience has been fantastic, and told how she has invited Maud to join them in Spain for a holiday.
Meanwhile, for her part, Maud, who comes from Auxerre, about two hours south of Paris, says: "I decided to become an au pair to improve my English because I would like to work in the tourism sector."
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She says that this has been her first au pair job, and she will go back to France in June. However, she has not ruled out staying in Ireland for another year to improve her English further.
Maud says what she likes about the country is that "Irish people are kind". But she says that she doesn't like the prices in Ireland.
"The advantage of being an au pair is I'm accommodated in a family, and I don't have to pay rent or bills," she said.
She says that she tends to mix with other au pairs, who are French girls. "I know it's no good to improve my English," she says, but adds that it's difficult to meet Irish people.
She goes to English classes on two evenings a week, organised by the Au Pair Study Centre, which is based in Clarinda Park North.
We were not too familiar exactly what was involved with having an au pair until we spoke to friends
Host family: Grainne and Ray from Dublin
Current Au pair: Lisa from Austria.
Number of Children/Ages: 2 children aged 11 months and 3 years old.
Taking au pairs from the au pair study agency since: 2009
We were not too familiar with exactly what was involved with having an au pair until we spoke to friends who had registered with the au pair study agency and had several au pairs over the years. We had a looked at the difference it would make in terms of cost and decided to call the agency.
This option for us has not only meant a considerable saving on crèche fees but has been incredibly flexible as well as an extra pair of hands around the house.
We had our first au pair from Spain in 2009 and there was great comfort in knowing the agency were there if we needed any support or had any problems. We will be sorry to see Georgina go but we are looking forward to meeting our new au pair soon!