County Derry families are facing added stress in bringing loved ones home from a care home setting, according to a Mid Ulster MLA.
Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin has expressed her frustration with the current lack of availability of care packages across parts of Mid Ulster, particularly in rural South Derry.
"I've been inundated in recent weeks with requests from families, desperate to get their loved ones home, but unable to care for them properly on their own," she said.
"I have written to the Health Minister this week to ask just how many people from across the Northern Trust area are currently trapped in hospital, ready and desperate to get home, but unable to because their package of care cannot be delivered.
"I have already asked the Department for clarity on how many people have died in hospital before their package has been delivered, statistics the Department do not record.
"It is impossible to fix a problem when you do not know the full scale of it."
The Draperstown representative said the difficulties around securing a care package were adding extra stress to what is already an anxious situation.
"No family should have the burden of healthcare on their shoulders as an added stress when someone they love is unwell," she said.
"People should be able to visit their elderly parents or other family members without that responsibility on top of their own personal commitments.
"The mental health issues that ensue from extended, unnecessary, periods in hospital or care homes are extensive.
"It is totally heartbreaking to hear from families who are desperate to have their loved one at home, but scared to risk their health by taking them out of a facility without the care package that they need.
"During the Covid-19 pandemic, we seen that community care workers were on the front line, in many circumstances with no PPE or support, carrying the heaviest load during lockdown.
"These people, as well as the local offices who are trying to deliver care, are doing their best, but the management of this service needs to be addressed," she added.
Liam Tunney speaks to Mid Ulster MLA Emma Sheerin about being characterised as the 'green DUP', facing the electorate for the first time and how she is making gender equality a priority.
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