The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) is marking Carers’ Week 2021 by hosting a number of outdoor face to face and virtual events for carers of all ages.
Running from 07 June to 13 June 2021, Carers’ Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and to recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
It also helps those people who don't think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to more easily identify as carers and to access much-needed support. This year the theme is coming together to ‘Make Caring Visible and Valued.’
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.
To mark the week members of the Western Trust Carers’ Support team held Picnics for Carers who attend the Carers’ walking groups in Fermanagh, Omagh and L/Derry.
Other events included, ‘Same Storm Different Boat,’ ‘Indian Cooking the easy way’, Aromatherapy workshop, Look Good Feel Good, Pilates taster and Breathe, Laugh and Relax events, which were all delivered via Zoom.
Organisers were keen to ensure this year’s events were reflective of the overall theme of ‘Making Carers Visible and Valued’ as this is an issue that many Carers’ know all too well.
The 2020 State of Caring Survey for Northern Ireland highlighted the impact of caring on finances and physical and emotional health. In particular, many carers found the additional pressure due to Covid-19 left them feeling increasingly socially isolated and forgotten about.
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 contribution 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 to suffer ill health 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: “We have seen an increase in the numbers of carers identifying themselves as having a caring role particularly for elderly parents. Lock down restrictions have been challenging for us all but carers have faced some very difficult times over the past year.”
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.
It is anticipated that the 2021 Census will show an increase in the number of unpaid carers in Northern Ireland.
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 or contact Geraldine McLaughlin, Western Trust Carers Development Worker on (028) 7135 5023 Alternatively email: Carers.Support1@westerntrust.hscni.net