SOUTH Down SDLP Assembly Candidate Eamonn O’Neill has addressed an IHCP (Independent Health Care Providers) seminar in Downpatrick.
Councillor O’Neill said, “I wish to put on record my absolute support for those who care for a relative or family friend who is unwell. This can often be an extremely demanding role and one which requires much needed support.
“At present, there are approximately 185,000 carers in Northern Ireland, providing care for ill, frail or disabled family members, friends and partners. Imagine these carers were no longer able to continue with their caring duties – think of the knock on effect this would have on the individuals involved, the Health Service and its Budget.
“It is imperative that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety ring fences funding which would permit periods of respite throughout the year for family members so that they can take a break, recuperate and return to their caring duties well rested.
“This funding has to be protected; it cannot be diluted or moved in a different direction. This would be money very well spent by the Department – it would be an investment in our future. People are living longer and the impact that this is set to have on the Health budget is immense, however if Government supports our carers with periods of respite or other such assistance, these devoted individuals will be in a position mentally, emotionally and physically to continue caring for their loved ones on into the future.”