Opinion

Help unpaid carers find their way this Carers Rights Day

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK

Working with clients, do you come into contact with family members who have a caring role?

With our ageing population and loved ones living with disabilities for longer, one thing is clear: more people are stepping in to look after family members and friends, with recent research showing as many as 8.8 million adults in the UK are caring unpaid.

Caring situations come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no such thing as a typical carer. You might speak to a parent bringing up a child with a disability, a daughter checking in regularly with her parents as they grow older, or a friend who lives nearby supporting someone with a serious illness. For some, caring involves being on hand around-the-clock; for others it requires helping out for just a few hours a week. Some people care in their own homes and some drive miles to look after somebody at the other end of a motorway. This might describe you, looking after relatives as well as undertaking paid care work for others.

Often people who care take a long time to recognise themselves as a carer. They see themselves as a loving parent, a loyal child, or a devoted friend. It means they don’t know they’re entitled to support to help them with their caring role and they don’t come forward for help.

This is where care staff can make all the difference. Providing crucial support to families every day, care staff are in a unique position to signpost family members with caring responsibilities to relevant information and support that could help them better balance their job with caring, manage their finances, and also look after their own health and wellbeing.

Carers Rights Day – taking place this year on Thursday 21st November – aims to help unpaid carers find their way and put them in touch with information and advice. At Carers UK we know that without help, looking after someone can have a huge impact on a person’s life.

This Carers Rights Day, why not find out what support there is for unpaid carers in your area and let the families you work with know about it? Not sure where to start? Try these tips:

Start the conversation

Ask your client or anyone accompanying them if anyone is providing support to them. If the service user agrees, include that person in the conversation. Let the carer know that there is support available that they might be entitled to. The question ‘do you look after someone?’ can be a more effective opening question than ‘are you a carer?’

Signpost to information

‘Looking after someone’ is Carers UK’s guide for anyone caring for family or friends, providing an overview of the practical and financial support available and carers’ rights. Carers UK’s website www.carersuk.org has a range of information about caring and we connect carers to each other for peer support through our carers’ forum.

Let carers know about support locally

Find out about the carers’ services in your area. Perhaps there is a local support group or special discounts? They can help put carers in touch with relevant information, advice and support from other carers in the area.

Remember the carers among your colleagues too

Significant numbers of people working in the social care sector are also combining their job with unpaid care so it’s likely that many of your colleagues are carers. See what support’s available in your workplace – there may be a carers’ staff network or more flexible working might be possible.

Organise an event

Hundreds of organisations across the UK hold an event or activity for Carers Rights Day to help people in their community find out about their rights as a carer. Why not join them? Let Carers UK know about your event and we’ll provide you with a pack including 20 free copies of ‘Looking after someone’ and materials to promote your event.

Thank you for supporting unpaid carers this Carers Rights Day.

 

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