Dublin Young Carer of the Year is awarded to Lucan teenager Úna

By Brendan Grehan

A LUCAN TEENAGER has won the title “Dublin Young Carer of the Year” at this week’s Carers of the Year Awards which was hosted by Family Carers Ireland.

Úna McNicholas (17) has been caring for her older sister Elizabeth for over 8 years. Elizabeth is living with severe brain and spinal injuries and has developed a sleeping disorder and Adrenal Insufficiency which is a life-threatening condition.

 Una Mc Nicholas from Lucan with her sister Elizabeth 17 November 2016

Úna has learned how to manage these conditions. As well as caring for her sister Úna also cares for her Dad who has been very ill after having several heart attacks.

What makes her even more special is the fact that Úna herself is living with a serious disability which not only affects her mobility but also causes her a lot of pain.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications at Family Carers Ireland, told The Echo: “Carers are invaluable to our society, and they contribute around 6.2 million hours of unpaid care each week, saving the State €4 billion each year. Being a carer means you almost always put the needs of others before yours, and at times it requires 24-hour support, there is no such thing as being off-duty.

"The Carers of the Year award seeks to recognise this incredible commitment and unwavering dedication that carers provide to their families and loved ones.”

Ms Cox said that they had received a high volume of entries this year. She said they had noticed a trend where carers get “sandwiched” in the caring role where they are caring for not just one, but sometimes two or more family members.

She added: “We also saw that many carers have a long history of caring, with over half of the winners providing care for 10 years and some providing care for 40 years or more.

"We also noticed that a high percentage of carers are caring for loved ones with rare disorders. This in itself presents many challenges in terms of information and supports on their condition, not to mention treatments.”

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