Carer's Week 2016- Supporting Carers

08/06/2016

A DVD promoting Carers’ Assessments has been launched at an event marking Carers’ Week 2016.

There are over 214,000 carers in Northern Ireland – that means around 1 in 8 of the population. During their lifetime, 6 out of 10 people here will assume a caring role at some stage.

Hosted by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in partnership with Carers’ NI, Carers’ Trust and CAUSE, the purpose of the event was to promote Carers’ Assessments which provide support to carers.

A Carers’ Assessment is a ‘support plan’ available to all carers who care for someone who receives health and social care services. Carers have the right to have their needs as a carer assessed to see what Health and Social Care can do to help them and support them as they care. A Support Plan is a time for carers to have a think about their own health and wellbeing, and the impact that caring is having on them.

Speaking at the event, Valerie Watts, Chief Executive of the HSCB said: “I am delighted to welcome so many carers here today who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to join us. It is important to recognise the contribution that carers, right across the region, play in providing support to loved ones. Whilst our carers provide this important role, they however, have the right to a life for themselves, and this can too often be forgotten.

“It is your right as a carer to ask for a Support Plan if it has not already been offered to you. The more plans we put in place, the more individual carers can be supported - but also, we get a better picture of the carers’ services needed regionally. The message in this DVD, from carers, is a kind of recruiting call to their fellow carers – ‘support planning can make the difference’; it can make you feel recognised and help link you to the support which enables you to keep on caring for your loved one.”

The event was attended by over 100 carers across Northern Ireland as well any those professionals from health and social care Trusts and the HSCB and representatives from the community and voluntary sector.

Carer Frank Dolaghan, is a member of the Regional Carers’ Strategy Implementation Group and with his wife Aileen cares for their son, he said:

“We very much welcome the launch of this new DVD. Caring responsibilities are often thrust on a family with little or no warning and often in very traumatic circumstances when understandably the whole focus of attention is on the needs of the person being cared for.

“Many carers in these situations are completely unprepared for the change in their own lives, they have no idea what help might be available and they have little idea of where to go for help. This DVD presents some excellent examples of how Carers’ Support Plans can be of assistance in helping to encourage carers to request an assessment and to prepare for it. I congratulate everyone involved in its production.”

Anne Cunningham from CAUSE commented: “It is essential that the role that carers play is acknowledged with support for carers as equal partners in care. Carers’ Support Plans are part of recognising that and treating carers as individuals with their own needs."

Mrs Watts concluded: “There were over 13,000 Support Plans offered last year by Health and Social Care Trusts, and we want to see this figure increase this year.

“Support provided through these plans will be different for each carer - support does not always mean formal services – it may be a short break, attending events or activities run in the local community, or ‘link-ups’ with other carers so that they support each other. I encourage all carers to accept this support available for you!”

Speaking about her experience of the Carers’ Support Plan, Bernie Mitchell a carer from Belfast said: “The assessment was good in that I was given the choice of venue and time that suited me, so I was able to arrange to have the assessment at home. It was very relaxed, I was able to sit and chat about me which you don’t often get. My whole life revolves around my caring role, so it made me actually sit and think of the things I actually need - and one of the things important to me was that I get regular breaks . It helped me identify information that was relevant and up to date that was available to me. I was also given contact details for the social worker should any of the things in my plan change.”