Each week at least 6,000 people begin caring for someone else. They may be a relative, a friend or a neighbour. For the majority of people who find themselves taking on this role and responsibility they do not recognise themselves as a carer seeing what they do as an extension of their relationship with the person. However, research has shown that caring for someone else can have a significant impact on the person’s life, health and wellbeing.
Carers Week, June 10th – 16th is the annual UK-wide awareness campaign to highlight the work undertaken by unpaid carers. This year the theme is Prepared to Care? and focuses on how carers are currently coping with caring, how the Government is supporting the growing number of unpaid carers and, whether the wider population is prepared for future caring responsibilities given our aging population and higher incidence of disability. It hopes to engage the public in considering how they would manage taking on a caring role and to prompt existing carers to ensure they have effective practical and emotional support to take care of themselves and enable them to continue caring for as long as they wish to.
Carers Week events aim to improve carers lives and those they care for by raising the profile of carers nationally and locally and celebrating their contribution to society. They hope this will help individuals to identify themselves as a carer and feel more able to seek advice, information and support. Carers Week also provides the opportunity to raise the issues affecting unpaid carers and those they care for and campaign for change.
Here are some facts about carers:
There are over 6.5 million carers in the UK
2 million people take on new caring responsibilities every year
5.7 million carers are over 18 years of age with the majority being 50-59 years old
1.5 million carers are over 60 years of age
175,000 carers are young people who are under 18 years of age
13,000 young carers provide care for more than 50 hours per week
1 in 8 workers in the UK combine working with unpaid caring responsibilities.
Without unpaid carers health and social care services would be unable to cope with the demand. Supporting unpaid carers is vital and very often they are working alongside health and social care workers to ensure the best outcomes for the individual. Unpaid carers are an enormous source of information about and, give insight into, the individual being cared for. Working in partnership with unpaid carers will substantially enhance the quality of care you can provide. However, they are often an untapped resource.
So how can you support the unpaid carers you come into contact with within your role? What could you do during Carers Week to celebrate their contribution to the wellbeing of the person they care for? How could you ensure unpaid carers are receiving the appropriate support, advice and information to help them?
To find out how you and your organisation can become involved and support unpaid carers visit http://www.carersweek.org You will also find details of events in your area as well as resources to run an event yourself.
Until next time….