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One-off carers’ grant must be considered by the Health Minister – Gildernew

28 July, 2020 - by Colm Gildernew

Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew MLA has called on the Minister of Health to urgently look at plans to bring forward a one-off grant to help support struggling carers.

Speaking after the Health Minister's statement to the Assembly today the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said;

“Carers have been hit hard, not only from the withdrawal of many domiciliary home visits but also the closure of day support centres and removal of respite provision. Carers have been overlooked in terms of the guidance and still face challenges with access to information and services.

"Earlier this month the Assembly passed a motion in support of a detailed plan for carers to support their unique needs.

“I was pleased to speak in support and help bring forward the motion. Yet, carers need more than supportive words and promises.

"It is important to remember that the situation of all carers is not the same and the challenges and pressures they face vary.

"Due to COVID-19 many carers have faced considerable disruption to their daily lives and access to routine support has changed and even vanished in some cases.

"A one size fits all approach is not appropriate given the diverse circumstances among carers.

"Those accessing direct payments were not able to spend it in the normal way during the crisis and rigid rules around what counts as care is causing difficulties for carers in meeting their changing needs due to the pandemic.

"Today I asked the Minister of Health to consider providing a one-off cash grant to support carers during this difficult and uncertain time. 

"The Minister should also review the guidance as to what constitutes care, for direct payments, to allow greater flexibility. This would allow carers to decide for themselves what will make the most difference to their lives during the pandemic.”

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