Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, Chief Executive at maritime charity The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, discusses the vital role carers play in our healthcare system, and the importance of celebrating them this carers Week
The care sector, those that work within it and unpaid carers, have experienced a challenging couple of years and as we come out of the pandemic, we must remember to continue supporting individuals in this role. In the UK there are around 6.5 million people who are carers[i], looking after people who may have a disability, physical or mental illness or may need support as they grow older. Without carers, these people would face extreme difficulties – which is why it is pivotal for us to highlight the work of all carers across the country.
At Royal Alfred we have 39 care workers and a 15 strong nursing team that provide nursing and respite care to elderly, sick or disabled seafarers, as well as their widows and dependants. In 2011 we opened a dedicated dementia facility that gives us the flexibility to provide residents with a full range of accommodation and care services all on one site.
The job of a carer has always been challenging, both mentally and physically, and this has only been accelerated by the pandemic, with a 2021 report by Carers UK stating 77% of carers felt that their mental health had become worse[ii] after the pandemic. There needs to be more awareness for the health and wellbeing for carers that may be struggling themselves whilst having to care the needs of another.
Carers Week runs from 6-12 June, and with a theme of being visible, valued and supported, it is essential to highlight the important work of carers and their fundamental role throughout the last two years.
At the Society we are pleased to have a remarkably diverse care team that includes people from all over the world. We know from talking to our team the importance that colleagues feel accepted, visible, and that their culture is recognised, something which was especially important during the pandemic when staff members were unable to travel to visit their family. To support the team, we introduced ‘staff culture days’, that see each staff member sharing food and elements of their culture to the rest of the team, cultivating a sense of belonging.
Diversity is crucial to the care sector, the 2021 Skills for Care report showed that the adult care sector is more diverse than the population of England. Having a workforce that is made up of many different age groups, genders and ethnicities helps all employees feel valued and perform at their best – here at The Royal Alfred we are pleased to champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Carers Week is not just to recognise professional carers but to also raise awareness of the important work the people who find themselves in the role of a caregiver for a loved one. Carers’ support has been valued at a staggering £530 million per day during the pandemic[iii] highlighting why this undervalued role is a necessity and how it supports the wider healthcare sector.
At The Royal Alfred, we want to highlight the tireless work of our carer workers and all of the people that may find themselves as caregivers this Carers Week. Championing the hard work of all of our staff for their dedicated work every day to ensure all residents are treated with the upmost dignity and care, but also make sure that the voices of care workers all over the country are heard and that their work is recognised.
Caring is a truly selfless job and takes a special individual who is invested in making sure the lives of people who need support is the most fulfilled it can be. Which is why it is so important to take a moment to appreciate and raise the voices of all those people but also value, recognise and support carers every day.