Evelyn Hoy, Chief Executive of The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, has called on the Health Minister to take action and support the role played by older carers in our society.

Carers week runs from 6 – 12 June 2016 and is an opportunity to recognise and highlight the contribution that Northern Ireland's older carers make to the people they care for and their communities.

Evelyn Hoy, Chief Executive of The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (COPNI), said:
"Older carers make it possible for thousands of people to live dignified and fulfilled lives in their own homes. In doing so, they make a huge contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. COPNI research has shown that the value of unpaid care provided by older people each year is worth over £1 billion.

"However, many older carers are not aware of the support that they are entitled to.

"In June 2014, the former Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, published a report which highlighted that over 60% of older carers were unaware of their entitlement to a Carers Assessment. Furthermore, over 70% of those surveyed stated that they had not been offered one.

"The Commissioner called on the Department of Health to put targets in place to increase the number of older carers receiving a Carers Assessment and to ensure that appropriate services were in place to offer them support.

"It is of great concern that, two years later, these calls remain unanswered.

"I urge the Minister of Health, Michelle O'Neill, to take action and establish clear targets to increase the uptake of Carers Assessments by older carers.

"Older carers play an essential role and they cannot be taken for granted. We must ensure that they are provided with appropriate information about their entitlements and that their practical, emotional and respite support needs are met."