Health Minister can show gratitude to carers by following up previous pledges, says Armstrong

COVID-19 Health Kellie Armstrong

The Health Minister can show gratitude for the work of carers during the pandemic by following up on previous pledges, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.

Ms Armstrong was speaking as she brought a petition to the Assembly, calling on Robin Swann to support carers by reopening all respite and day centres across Northern Ireland, as well as making good on his announcement in January about a COVID payment to carers.

It comes in the wake of new research by Carers NI, which showed 79 per cent of carers in Northern Ireland have not had a break from caring for the past 15 months, despite providing more care now than before. Over 70 per cent of carers say their mental health has deteriorated as a result of not having a break from caring during the pandemic, while a third say they feel unable to manage their caring role.

“Carers are past breaking point due to the postcode lottery and the partial opening of services for people with disabilities and older people,” said Ms Armstrong.

“If pubs can open – and we welcome that boost to the economy – why can’t respite care?

“Many carers have been on call all day, every day during the pandemic. Always on duty and with no time to themselves or to spend with family or friends. Many have spent that time shielding with the person they care for, which unsurprisingly has left them exhausted and now worried about how they will continue to care without increased support.

“The research from Carers NI shows the impact of reduced support from services has had on carers’ health and well-being. Without the right interventions, there could be significant breakdowns by carers. This petition shows they are asking for help and I call on the Health Minister to now live up to previous pledges to do just that.”