Opinion

Making unpaid carers Visible and Valued this Carers Week

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Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK

One year on and the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to bring significant challenges for the social care sector. Having to adapt swiftly to changes in the way we all operate has meant additional demands on care professionals. You have shown great commitment and dedication to those you support during this difficult year so thank you.

As restrictions ease, life still comes with its challenges for the estimated 6.5 million people in the UK caring unpaid for a family member or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

The crisis has demanded far more of their time as the options for getting support with care have been reduced. A Carers UK survey published last October showed 81% of carers have been providing more care during the pandemic. Lockdowns have meant families have been unable to rely on the informal support of wider family members or friends as they might normally have done, and this combined with reduced support from face-to-face services, such as day centres, has led to many forgoing breaks from their caring role. 58% of carers told us they had seen their physical health impacted by caring through the pandemic, while 64% said their mental health has worsened.

Unpaid carers have played an important role protecting and supporting older and disabled people – doing so most of the year on their own, behind closed doors. Carers Week is an important opportunity to recognise their enormous contribution and get them linked up with the support they need. This year our annual awareness campaign takes place from 7th – 13th June 2021 and once again, Carers UK is joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness to help raise awareness of caring around the country.

Research suggests people working in health and care professions are more likely to be juggling their job with an unpaid caring responsibility – so the chances are some of your colleagues are caring. Why not use Carers Week to reach out to them or raise awareness at your workplace of the support available to them?

It remains vital that we all work together to make caring visible and valued, and ensure carers are able to get the practical, financial and emotional support they need to care for a loved one. Please join us in supporting colleagues and the families you work with as we recognise the continuing impact of the pandemic and unique challenges it brings.

carersweek.org

 

If you work with an unpaid carer what can you do to support them?

  • You could use Carers Week as an opportunity to reach out to unpaid carers, run a virtual event or share information
  • Help us raise awareness of caring and Add Your Voice to the Carers Week campaign on our website carersweek.org or on social media
  • Reach out to staff who may also provide unpaid care to offer support and information
  • Follow Carers Week on Twitter @CarersWeek and use the hashtag #Carersweek
  • Like Carers Week on Facebook (www.facebook.com/carersweek) and join in with the conversation

For further information:

  • Find out more about Carers Week 2021 and how you can get involved at carersweek.org
  • Are you an unpaid carer with a question about caring? Call Carers UK’s helpline on 0808 808 777 (Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm) or email advice@carersuk.org
  • If you have particular concerns about caring through the Covid-19 outbreak, or are looking for practical advice, find Carers UK’s guidance at carersuk.org/coronavirus

 

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