Unrecognised carers provide an estimated £4bn worth of care and support in Northern Ireland each year.
That was the key message from Pamela McCreedy, Director of Transforming Your Care with the Health and Social Care Board who was speaking at the Carers NI event to mark the beginning of National Carers’ Week (9-15 June).
Mrs McCreedy said that more needs to be done to identify and support carers. It is vital that these carers are recognised and supported in their role. The identification of carers and the uptake of the carers’ assessments are now a ministerial target and a priority for the Board this year.
“Carers tell us that many people simply don’t know they can have their needs assessed, where to get information and what support they can avail of through the Health and Social Care Trusts. We need to change that and we will work hard on doing so,” she said.
Addressing carers at the event, Mrs McCreedy paid tribute to the outstanding work that carers do and the contribution they make to health and social care in Northern Ireland.
“The role that carers undertake is invaluable and it is so important that you are supported. Transforming Your Care recognises this. The assistance provided by carers cannot be overestimated and it is thanks to their dedication that thousands of people in Northern Ireland are able to retain their independence and continue to live in their local community. It was also the carers’ voices that came through the strongest during the Transforming Your Care consultation process last year.”
The Transforming Your Care Director during her address outlined a range of projects and initiatives being introduced by the Board, Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts and Local Commissioning Groups to help support carers. However, she emphasised;
“Looking ahead we are still at the beginning of our journey of implementation, and although a lot of excellent progress has been made to date, we recognise that a lot still needs to happen to support carers.”
Helen Ferguson, Director of Carers Northern Ireland, welcomed the support for Carers Week shown by the Health and Social Care Board.
“Transforming Your Care has the potential to deliver the kind of flexible, responsive services that carers have been asking for”, she said, “but it’s vital that carers are involved in the design and delivery of health and social care. We have a real chance to get things right for thousands of us who are going to be carers in the future.”