THE Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the ability of carers to access breaks; with many local services closed or severely reduced, and with people having to reduce contact with family members and friends.
This has left many local carers facing difficulties with their own health and wellbeing, according to a report published by Carers NI.
A 21-year-old Omagh woman, Caoimhe Bennett, has been caring for her mother Charlotte since she was just seven years old.
Her mum is blind and diabetic, and Caoimhe said it has been hard to get a break over the last year.
“There have been ups-and-downs over the last year. With the total lockdown you couldn’t go anywhere and so there was no distraction for me or mummy even,” Caoimhe said.
“There was nowhere to go to get a different scene or do something different in the day, but it’s what you make it and you just try to get on with it.
“I don’t see it as a job at all, it’s just something you do as a decent human being. It’s been my life and it’s all I’ve known.”
Caoimhe’s mum Charlotte added that without her daughter she would be completely lost, particularly over the last year. Caoimhe also works as a carer for other people in the local community, and is studying to become a primary school teacher.
“Caoimhe knows what I want before my body even realises. She always tells me that I’m never a burden and she just does everything for me,” Charlotte said.
“The roles were reversed very early for Caoimhe and myself and she is a credit for that. But all the carers that I have come across have been absolutely fantastic as well.”
Western Health and Social Care Trust chief executive, Anne Kilgallen, said carers play a really important role as part of the health service overall.
“Our carers play a really important role in supporting people right across the west.
“We’ve had a very difficult year because of pandemic and carers have coped with reduced services,” Dr Kilgallen said.
“Now we’re slowly rebuilding and restarting to ensure that we can continue to provide ongoing support to all of you who do such important work.”