Carers still time to apply for stress-relieving grant

THE Southern Health Trust has reminded local carers of the help available for those looking after a relative or friend with a long-term illness or disability.

Director of Older People and Primary Care for the Southern Trust, Angela McVeigh, said many people who looked after the frail and elderly did not consider themselves a ‘carer’ - but simply a husband, wife, son, daughter or partner.

She said, “A recent review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland entitled ‘Transforming Your Care’, highlighted how critical carers are in supporting their loved ones.

“If you are caring for someone you may wonder where to go to for practical help and advice. People are entitled to a ‘carer’s assessment’ if they are looking after someone who has been assessed as eligible for services from the Trust, even if they do not wish to avail of


Mrs McVeigh said the assessment was aimed at making caring easier by providing support for both carer and patient, ensuring the carer is listened to and given help where possible.

“Anyone who has not already been offered a ‘carer’s assessment’, or who wishes to have a review of one carried out earlier, can ask any healthcare

professional to make a referral or simply ask their GP,” she said. “Maintaining a carer’s own health and wellbeing is also extremely important and examples of the support that may be available for carers include respite, direct payments, training or a carer’s ‘cash grant’.”

The cash grant is designed to be spent on something which may relieve stress or give a carer time away from their role, such as a short break or aromatherapy sessions.

Resources are limited and the grant is only available until the end of March this year. To qualify, you must have a carer’s

assessment carried out and it is aimed at carers whose circumstances, health and well- being would benefit from the extra support.

The Trust also employs a carers’ co-ordinator who works closely with the voluntary organisation ‘Carers Matter’ which employs volunteers and outreach workers across the Craigavon and Banbridge area.

“The Trust works in partnership with Carers Matters to provide help and support to carers and to ensure that carers know where to access support,” added Mrs McVeigh, “as many find it difficult to understand the ever-changing benefit system.

“Carers Matter can help people to understand what they are entitled to and how it will affect them.”

Anyone who would like more information about supports available should contact Carers Matters on 028 40627581 or Southern Trust Carers’

Coordinator, telephone 028 30834252/325.