The Health Minister has launched a new ID card to support carers in NI. Similar to IDs for healthcare workers, carers will be able to show their ID in stores to get access to priority shopping hours.
Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s have all confirmed they will facilitate unpaid/family carers and young carers during their priority shopping hours.
Launching the new ID card the Health Minister said: “Today marks the first day of Carers Week and I would like to first and foremost pay tribute to all of our informal carers in Northern Ireland. I’m pleased that the theme for this week is help make caring visible, so much of what carers do goes on in family homes and is often unseen but it is not unappreciated. Carers and young carers are there at all hours of the day and night and for that we are very grateful.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a number of added challenges for carers, not only are they now spending more time looking after loved ones but other everyday tasks such as going for medications or other essentials now takes longer. The introduction of the ID card and the partnership with retailers should reduce the time carers have to spend shopping and hopefully ease some of that pressure.”
The Health Minister added: “I know that a great deal of work has gone into this initiative and I would like to thank the retailers, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Carers NI, the Health and Social Care Board and the Trusts.”
Welcoming the initiative, Clare-Anne Magee from Carers NI said: “Caring for a family member or friend can be stressful at the best of times but during this pandemic carers are finding it increasingly difficult.
“In our recent survey of carers’ experiences during Covid-19, 78% of carers in Northern Ireland were providing more care due to the outbreak. Worryingly, many carers are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current situation with 71% of carers spending more money on food. Many carers reported that they were facing significant challenges accessing the food, medication or other supplies that they need to support the person they were caring for. Difficulties with accessing online delivery slots, access to volunteer support, lack of time to queue and shop, and not being able to shop with the person they care for were often highlighted as major issues. For those carers who can get out to shop, by the time they get there they are having to wait for long periods to get in to the store or can’t get the food their loved ones need.
“We are delighted therefore to have contributed to the development of the Carers ID cards and we welcome the introduction of the access to priority shopping hours and hope that this will ease some of the pressure off carers, enabling them to access the food they need more quickly.”
Aodhán Connolly from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium added: “Our members are delighted to support the Minister and the Department of Health with the Carers ID card initiative. It will make things a little easier for those who are playing a really important role for their families and their communities. This is just one of many ways retailers have stepped up to support households across NI. During this coronavirus crisis retailers have proved that they are not just servicing the community but part of the community.”