Northern Ireland

Over 250,000 unpaid carers in Northern Ireland say their health has suffered

Carers NI has said Stormont must return to support families providing unpaid care.
Carers NI has said Stormont must return to support families providing unpaid care.

A quarter of a million unpaid carers in Northern Ireland have suffered negative impacts on their health, a new survey has said.

The poll from YouGov surveyed 4,374 adults, with the figures weighted and representative of all UK regions.

According to Carers NI, the figures indicate that over 250,000 people in Northern Ireland have been affected and a third (32 per cent) of current or unpaid carers said supporting their loved one had led to negative effects on their health and wellbeing.

The charity’s Public Affairs Manager, Craig Harrison said: “These findings paint a damning picture of the extent to which our unpaid carers are forced to sacrifice their own wellbeing everyday as the price of supporting their loved ones.

“With a fit-for-purpose health and social care system we could better protect the local carer population, but the failure to deliver the reform the system needs, mixed with a lack of political leadership from an empty Stormont, is jeopardising the health of our unpaid carers on a massive scale.

“Exhaustion, burnout and breakdown among our carers is the result.”

He said it was no longer fair to ask unpaid carers to “prop up the health service and provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free care every week” with no support.

Mr Harrison said the last Health Minister had published a road map to provide more respite and high quality social care packages, but this couldn’t continue as long as Stormont remained in limbo.

He said the poll also showed that 27 per cent of those providing unpaid care in Northern Ireland reported their relationships with family and friends had suffered because of their caring role, with 23 per cent adding it had affected their job or ability to work. 

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