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Alliance MLAs secure all-party support for disability services and carers motion

Alliance MLAs have secured all-party support for an Assembly motion calling for the resumption of carer services suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

The motion, which will be debated in the Assembly chamber tomorrow (Tuesday), recognises the significant impact of the pandemic on children and adults with a disability, and the contribution of family carers following the suspension of statutory and non-statutory care services, before calling on the Health Minister to produce a detailed plan for their resumption. It will be supported by all the parties at the Assembly.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Learning Disability, said it was important carers knew how the services would be re-established.

“The cessation of many services due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children and adults with a disability, and the family carers who have been required to meet their needs with little assistance.

“It is vital the Health Minister sets out a plan for the resumption of these services for people with a disability and establishes a COVID-19 family carer grant to recognise the contribution of family carers, and help them access services and respite.”

Alliance’s Kellie Armstrong MLA, Chair of the Assembly All-Party Group on Disability, said carers had largely been left to fend on their own throughout the pandemic.

“Caring for a loved one 24 hours a day has left many carers exhausted. All carers need to know when respite, day centres and other services will resume. This will give them a break and will enable the person with disabilities to regain some of the independence they had before lockdown.

“Many carers are close to breaking point and making themselves ill without a break. Only the fear of what would happen to their loved one, should they not be around to look after them, keeps many carers going. The health service does not have the capacity or staff available to replace carers. It’s vital we recognise carers’ needs and put appropriate support packages in place to support them to continue.

“I am pleased to propose this motion as it recognises the vital support provided by many carers, such as my dad. Many carers need assurance there is light at the end of this tunnel. They are part of the rainbow of heroes working tirelessly throughout lockdown.”