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Northern Ireland carers 'suffer shocking levels of poor health'

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Unpaid carers in Northern Ireland are suffering from "shocking levels of poor health", according to the charity Carers NI.

In a survey of more than 1,600 unpaid carers across Northern Ireland, more than a quarter of respondents described their mental health as bad or very bad. One in five carers said the same about their physical health.

The survey also found some 40% had not had a break from caring during the previous year and 23% said support services in their area did not meet their needs.

Tracey Gililand, from Portadown, cares for her two disabled sons and said families like hers have been all but forgotten since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Carers are still having to ask for the full return of much-needed day care and respite services and it feels like we've been left to paddle our own canoes with no help," she said.

"No one knows our struggles, the many sleepless nights and exhaustion during the day. The impact on carers' mental health. The isolation that families like us experience that no one else sees," Ms Gililand explained.

Carers NI said it has called for a legal right to social care support for all unpaid carers, the appointment of an independent carers' champion to advocate for carers to government, and wider transformation of the health system.

Craig Harrison from the charity said carers had been "driving themselves into the ground", and were physically exhausted and in a state of constant anxiety.

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Source: BBC News, 8 November 2022

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