Carers’ Support

Please note that Advice for Carers and Young Carers During COVID-19 Pandemic has been updated. The advice is available at the following link:

We recognise the essential and valuable role that carers play and we are committed to ensuring that carers are supported in their caring role.

Care during COVID-19?

Are you caring for a vulnerable family member? Would you be willing to take part in a small study of caring for a very vulnerable family member during the COVID19 lockdown. This study is funded by the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, at Queen’s University Belfast. We want to find out about the emotional impact the pandemic is having on carers in families.  Contact Lisa Smyth to find out more: 07706831286, or


Support and information during COVID-19

Carers Allowance 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, new measures allow unpaid carers to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to isolate because of it.

Department for Communities has also confirmed that providing emotional support counts towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care a week. This applies to:

  • carers who live in a different household from the disabled person and whose only contact with them is now going to be in the form of emotional support via the telephone and social media
  • new claims as well as for those already receiving Carer’s Allowance

This is temporary but could be useful to those who suddenly find themselves in a caring role or who previously didn’t meet the criteria of providing care for 35 hrs per week or more.

Listening to your views

In our recent consultation with carers, you told us that you had limited knowledge of the support and resources available for carers across the Southern Trust area.  In response, we have developed a BOOKLET and new online content so that carers can follow up and access the support they need.

Access this information using the links below.

Support Services and Resources for Carers

About the Trust’s Carer Support Framework

We recognise the essential and valuable role that carers play in the delivery of safe and effective care to the person cared for and as such we are committed to ensuring that carers are supported in their caring role:

  • through Trust services
  • through commissioned services
  • by referral or signposting to other service providers
  • by raising awareness of the support services available locally

Our Carer Support Framework includes:

  • A Lead Executive Director for Carers to provide overall direction and drive for carer’s support within the organisation
  • A Non-Executive Director for Carers
  • A Carer’s Reference Group to coordinate and address the on-going needs and issues relating to carers in the Southern Trust area.
  • An Annual Carers’ Action Plan
  • A Carer Focus Group of social work staff to discuss best practice
  • Quarterly performance reports in relation to the Caring for Carers’ Strategy
  • A Carers’ Coordinator to support the role of carers and implement the SHSCT Carer Strategy
  • Carers Champions within each programme of care to drive improvements to carer support

For more information on each of these areas of work, read our INFORMATION BOOKLET on carers support.

Short Breaks

Do you need a short term break from your caring role? Did you know that direct payments can be used to pay for short term breaks?

What is a short term break?

A short term break is defined as time away from normal day to day living – going somewhere or doing something that helps you keep well. This is time for a carer to have a break from caring for their relative. A break from caring is different for each person and can change over time and circumstances. It is time away from the physical, practical and emotional parts of caring. A break can be any activity that gives time away from caring responsibilities, in any location that you and the cared for person choose.

What are direct payments for short term breaks?

The aim of the direct payment scheme in relation to short term breaks is to increase choice and flexibility when arranging, paying for and taking short term breaks. It is not a method of paying for holidays – although in many instances, taking a short break could feel the same as taking a holiday.

You do not have to be in receipt of direct payments to qualify for a direct payment specifically for short breaks.

How do I get a direct payment for a short term break?

If you are a carer of an adult who is in receipt of care/support from social services and need a break from your caring role, you should discuss this matter with the adult’s Case Manager. The Case Manager will carry out an assessment of your needs (Carers Assessment) that will help to identify the positive aspect of your caring role as well as the pressures you experience. An outcome from the assessment may be that the Case Manager recommends a short break service.

If you are caring for an adult in receipt of services please click here to see more information on direct payments to avail of a short break.

If you are caring for a child please click here

Useful contact numbers