In sickness and in health

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CARERS Week takes place annually and highlights the vital contribution made by carers to their families and communities in providing unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled. This year, the theme for the week (June 18 - 22) is ‘In sickness and in health’.

The theme for the week calls for better financial and practical support, regular health checks and more carers’ breaks for the diverse range of people who have caring responsibilities.

Research carried out by Carers Northern Ireland and the University of Leeds found that family carers are saving the government an estimated £4.4bn in Northern Ireland per year. This works out at, on average, £21,000 per carer per year.

It’s estimated that there are 207,000 carers in Northern Ireland, with one quarter of them providing more than 50 hours of care per week.

The Northern Trust’s Carers’ Co-ordinator, Anne Cummings said: “Many carers in the Northern Trust area suffer due to a lack of understanding about what they do - some don’t even recognise themselves as carers. This has a real and negative impact on their health, finances, working and social life, and general wellbeing. The Trust supports carers through a range of services.”

Along with many other events taking place across Northern Ireland to celebrate Carers Week, the Northern Trust will help to support carers through a number of events, including running a special information stand at Antrim Area Hospital from June 18 - 22, and organising a carers’ coffee morning, sponsored by Sainsbury’s, at Sainsbury’s Carrickfergus on June 20.

TV presenter Fiona Phillips, who has cared for both her parents, says: “From personal experience, I know caring can demand a lot of your time and attention, which in some cases can put pressure on other areas in your life such as financial responsibilities and relationships. These problems can prove to be exhausting and mentally gruelling and can really take its toll on your health and wellbeing. I hope Carers Week can again help to achieve change and make a real difference to the lives of carers in this country.”

For more information about Northern Trust resources for carers, contact Anne Cummings on 028 2766 1392 or email anne.cummings@northerntrust.hscni.net