SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has raised concerns over the provision of Respite or Short Breaks for carers of children and adults with learning disabilities.
Mr McNulty explained, ‘Respite Care or Short Break Services for those who care for a child or indeed an adult with learning disabilities and complex needs is vital, for both the young person involved and indeed their carer and family. I fear our systems are failing them.’
‘We are all too aware of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our health care systems, with restricted access to GP Services and large scale cancellations of surgeries and routine hospital procedures. However, there is very little awareness of the impact on services such as respite and short breaks services.’
‘The love and care provided by parents and siblings to those young people and adults with complex needs is a grossly underestimated in our health care system. In recent weeks I have been contacted by a number of parents and carers who poured out their hearts to me. They have explained just how tough lockdowns have been and they’ve described the burden of no respite on them and their entire family networks.’
‘The real issue is the impact on respite services, many of which have been paused - the impact of this is felt most by family and carers. Most of them have now gone over a year now without respite and help. This has a real impact on the carer, both physically and emotionally.’
‘I have raised my concerns with the Minister for Health and have urged the speedy resumption of services as well as a review of respite services for both children and adults with disabilities and complex needs. In addition to this, I have raised queries about the lack of domiciliary care packages for adults in comparison to what is on offer for children.’
‘These families deserve better and I hope the Minister will be able to detail what is on offer and when services will commence again. This is imperative and must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Families and carers deserve no less.’