New research released for #Carers Week 2021 (7th – 13th June 2021) has found that carers lost, on average, 25 hours of support a month they previously had from services or family and friends before the pandemic. 

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on NI carers’ ability to access breaks; with many local services closed or severely reduced, and with people having to reduce contact with family members and friends, this has left many carers without access to the support that they used to rely upon.

Today marks the start of Carers Week and Carers UK have produced their latest report "Breaks or Breakdown" to launch the week and highlight the significant impact this reduced support has had on carers’ health and wellbeing. The report includes NI specific findings from Carers NI, reflecting the experiences of carers across NI.

 The report highlights that in Northern Ireland:

  • Before the pandemic carers  were already struggling to access meaningful breaks, with 44% of carers saying they did not get the breaks they need.
  • 79% of carers have not had a break from caring for the past 15 months despite providing more care now than ever before. 
  • 72% of carers say their mental health has deteriorated as a result of not being able to take a break from caring.
  • 78% have reported high levels of fatigue, stress and exhaustion.
  • 78% of carers here said they were exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during the pandemic.
  • 69% of carers worry about continuing to care without a break.
  • Worryingly, a third of carers in NI say they feel unable to manage their caring role. 

During Carers Week , Carers NI want to highlight the urgent need for access to breaks and practical support for carers across NI and are calling on the Dept of Health, local Health and Social Care Trusts and the Public Health Agency to work together to look at the infection, prevention and control guidelines in relation to day centres and respite provisions to ensure the quick and safe re-opening of services as soon as possible.  If services cannot be re-opened fully, they ask that appropriate and meaningful alternatives to those services must be provided urgently.