DJ Calvert, 49, from Londonderry. relies on daily visits from a care worker to help him with basic personal care – but is being withdrawn due to services being “increasingly stretched in ever more demanding circumstances”
A man born without hands or legs will no longer get a daily carer worker to help him shower and get dressed – due to “increasingly stretched” services, a health service has said.
Currently, his care is provided by an independent firm on behalf of the Northern Health Trust. While he lives alone, DJ Calvert, 49, from Londonderry, relies on a daily visit from a care worker to help him with basic hygiene and personal care. In his view, it was proof that Northern Ireland’s health and social care system had “crashed.”
Usually, that help was provided by his mother. However, since March 2023 she was no longer able to do so. A seven-day-a-week care package was then put in place after only one company agreed to provide it.
But last week Mr Calvert was contacted by his social worker to say it would end in three weeks. DJ Calvert told BBC NI : “I’ve been let down – and I’m not the only one. I thought somebody was winding me up. ”
His mother, Heather, said: “I was under the impression that this was permanent. You just don’t know where you are all the time and what’s going to happen to him and that is a very big worry.”
She said “your child is always your child” and that while currently she sometimes has to fill in to provide DJ with care “that’s not going to last forever”. The care provider said it understood “the worry it is causing”, and would “seek an alternative provider” that would “support him to continue living independently in his own home”. It added that it was “increasingly stretched” and that more funding was needed for the sector.
His care is provided by Connected Health but that is due to end on 1 December, with the company telling BBC News NI that it was “increasingly stretched in ever more demanding circumstances”. Many areas of the country are “ care deserts” leaving four out of five in need of care relying primarily on a family member.
One in 10 provide unpaid care and this is set to rise. The lack of formal support has left 24% of carers losing touch with friends while 27% lack frequent social contact with others.
A poll of 1,000 unpaid carers by the Alzheimer’s Society revealed many had to quit work while 47% juggle caring with a job. A fifth spend at least one night a week living with the cared for person. Around 22% spent less time with their partner and a third of parents aged 25-34 had less time with their children.