Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland has secured funding of approximately £60,000 for a part time family support officer in Northern Ireland.
The funding from the Department of Health (DoH) will be for two years and will go towards the project aiming to support around 2,300 carers to people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action explains that there are a number of problems with provision of epilepsy care in Northern Ireland at the moment. They include the longest waiting times for services in the UK at the moment and a “severe lack” of neurologists and epilepsy specialist nurses (ESNs).
As well as that, people with epilepsy in Northern Ireland are struggling to access government benefits like Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Epilepsy Action said. Northern Ireland also has the lowest employment rate for disabled people in the UK, with just over a third (37.8%) of disabled people in employment. The rate of employment of disabled people in Northern Ireland in 2020 was around two-fifths (42.2%) lower than the rate of employment of non-disabled people. This was just under one-third (27.9%) for the whole of the UK.
The new role and the project funded by the DoH will support carers through activities like information events, raising awareness, working with healthcare professionals and working to reduce social isolation.
This year, Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland also secured a £200,000 grant from the Department of Health Northern Ireland to expand its counselling service for people with epilepsy and mental health problems.