Celebrating Informal Carers

15/06/2018

Celebrating Informal Carers During Carers Week 2018 from the 11 June to 17 June 2018 the Western Trust is celebrating all those informal Carers of all ages who are the back bone of the health and social care service at a number of special events.

This year’s theme is ‘Helping carers to get Healthy and Connected’. The 2017 State of Caring Survey for Northern Ireland highlighted the impact of caring on finances, and physical and emotional health. In particular many carers were finding they become increasingly social isolated due to their caring role.

A Carer is someone of any age who provides support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health problems.

Carers pamper daytime events took place this week at the Killyhelvin Hotel, Enniskillen, the White Horse Hotel, Derry/Londonderry and an evening event at the Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh with over 300 carers attending across the three events.

Those who attended got the opportunity to sample a variety of complementary therapies and health checks. Information stalls were in keeping with the theme of Carers Week and included displays from the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, Patient Client Council, Make the Call, Alzheimer’s Society, CAUSE/Action Mental Health, Carers Trust and Diabetes UK.  Other stalls provided information and support on emotional health and well-being. At the Omagh event carers enjoyed a meal and entertainment.

A number of events are planned in conjunction with Barnardos for young carers in the Western Trust, including Go-Karting and water activities on Lough Erne.

Ann McDuff, Assistant Director who chairs the Young Carers Steering Group said “Being a young carer can have a big impact on the things that are important to growing up such as a young person’s own health, their social life and self-confidence. Many young carers are absent from school because of their caring role and others struggle to balance their education and caring role which causes additional stress. For these reasons we have circulated an information leaflet for staff in all schools profiling this often ’hidden ’group and advising on the support available.

The range of services that the Western Trust provide with Barnardo’s offers young carers the chance to be themselves, to be free from responsibility for a while, to have one-to-one support  and most importantly, to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care and Older Peoples Services, Western Trust said: “Without the input of Carers in supporting their loved ones, the health service would be unable to meet the ever increasing demand for services. It is essential therefore that we ensure Carers are supported to continue the very valuable work that they do. It is particularly important that we support them in also taking care of themselves.

“Carers themselves are twice as likely to be become ill, or suffer ill health than compared to the general population.”

Dr Brown continued: “None of us can give of our best if we do not maintain our own health and wellbeing first. The Carer Week events are about celebrating the caring role and to give Carers the opportunity to have a break to recharge their batteries.”

Cathy Magowan who is Carers Coordinator for the Western Trust added: “When you stop and think for a moment what Carers do day in day out you realise what a huge service they provide for our society sometimes at a considerable cost to themselves, supporting them is absolutely key and Carers Week is an excellent way for us to all recognise and appreciate what they do. Many carers do this while juggling full or part-time employment. Over the past year the carers support team have engaged with local businesses to provide carers awareness training within the workplace for employees and managers.”

The Western Trust area has a rapidly ageing population and the number of people over 65 is increasing year on year.  This will bring with it an increase in age-related illnesses, such as Dementia, the effects of Strokes and Diabetes. This means more carers will take up the caring role in the future.

According to the most recent Census 2011 the number of people in an informal caring role in Northern Ireland has risen by 16%, but this is thought to be an under estimate as many people do not identify themselves as carers.

If you care for someone in an unpaid capacity and would like to find out more about registering as a Carer, please telephone  the Western Trust’s Carers Support  Office on (028) 66 344 163, Cathy Magowan, Western Trust Carer Coordinator email: Cathy.Magowan@westerntrust.hscni.net  or contact Geraldine McLaughlin, Western Trust Carers Development Worker on (028) 7135 5023 email: GeraldineAnn.McLaughlin@westerntrust.hscni.net