Improving support for older carers

Louise Skelly The Patient and Client Council has welcomed better cross-government support for older carers caring for adult dependents.

Across the UK, Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of older people with a learning disability being cared for at home. For elderly carers, planning for the future can prove to be a seemingly unachievable task. Recent government policy has focused on the resettlement of adults with a learning disability who reside in hospital. However, there is a sizeable constituency of adults living with ageing carers for whom there is no co-ordinated plan.

People receiving care worry that that no one will make sure that their son or daughter has a good life after they are gone. The Patient and Client Council has been helping families to tell their stories to senior officers from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), the Health and Social Care Board and trusts, and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

This has resulted in a number of cross-government initiatives, including: intensive training for staff working with family carers of adults with a learning disability (provided by the University of Ulster); a needs assessment being undertaken by the Health and Social Care Board; the Health and Social Care Board submitting funding proposals to the DHSSPS; and the Housing Executive improving the involvement of families when planning local housing solutions.

In addition, a number of families have been able to plan for individual solutions. There is a real need for all departments and agencies to continue to work in a joined up way to give older carers the support and hope they need for the future.

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