Carers’ priorities

The Patient and Client Council’s Head of Operations, Louise Skelly, shares key findings from the Patient and Client Council’s ‘Carers’ Priorities’ report.

Carers play a vital role in our society, supporting family and friends by providing practical help, personal care and emotional support. Approximately 214,000 people in Northern Ireland are unpaid carers, and that unpaid care equates to a contribution of approximately £4.4 billion every year.

‘Carers’ Priorities’ was developed to understand the impact that being a carer has on people’s lives, and to identify what particular priorities they have for the Health and Social Care system.

Key findings

•   carers want the security and confidence of knowing that high quality community services are available and accessible, and that there is the correct level of adequately trained staff providing this care;

•   carers want to feel valued for their contribution and the full implementation of carer’s needs assessment is key to this. This assessment should include respite care;

•   carers want advice and information about health and social care services, direct payments, benefits and finance. There should be a single point of access, available to all so that carers do not have to continuously go through Health and Social Care staff to get the information that they need. Accessible information should also focus on other services provided by both statutory and third sector providers;

•   carers want to see improved communication within and between services. One way of doing this would be to ensure that every carer has a care plan held personally in the home (where appropriate consent from people being cared for is in place). In addition, there should also be a support plan for the carer which would include a contingency plan if something goes wrong.

What’s next?

By establishing ‘Carers’ Priorities’ for Health and Social Care, the Patient and Client Council is seeking to influence how planning and commissioning of services can be better informed by people who, in often demanding and challenging circumstances, help to support the needs of others. What would happen to the Health and Social Care system if carers didn’t do what they do every day?

People are living longer and the number of older people living in Northern Ireland is set to increase over the coming years. This is something to be celebrated, but the reality of this is that many more people will need to be cared for by their spouse/partner, family or by carers in residential homes. The impact on health for older carers should not be underestimated. Planning for the future is a key concern for carers and its something the Patient and Client Council has been campaigning on.

Health and Social Care services are under tremendous pressure, and while this is widely acknowledged, the quality of care should not suffer. At a time of budget constraints and increasing demand on services, it’s more important than ever that the voice of carers is not lost.”

Visit to get your copy of ‘Carers’ Priorities’.

Patient and Client Council

1st Floor, Ormeau Baths

18 Ormeau Avenue

Belfast, BT2 8HS

Tel: 0800 917 0222



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