It would be an understatement to say the last three months have been a challenging time for the social care sector. Care professionals everywhere have been under enormous pressure to adapt quickly and effectively in response to Covid-19, acting swiftly to establish how they can best protect themselves, colleagues and the people they support. We thank care professionals for their hard work and commitment to keeping people safe during what is an incredibly difficult period.
Normal ways of living have changed dramatically for all of us and, similarly, for many of the country’s 6.5 million unpaid carers life has changed substantially too.
A Carers UK survey of unpaid carers during the Covid-19 lockdown showed that the majority of unpaid carers are now having to provide even more care for their loved ones during the crisis. On average, they are providing an additional 10 hours of care every week. Where they may have had some form of support before, there are carers who have no choice but to care round the clock for loved ones with complex health conditions and disabilities – without any hope of a break. Carers tell us they feel like they are “on duty” all the time and worry about the weeks and months ahead.
We know that many unpaid carers have had to make tricky choices about money, work, as well as the health and safety of those they care for. Some are managing their caring responsibilities entirely from home, behind closed doors, and are feeling even more isolated than they did before lockdown.
Carers Week is an awareness campaign run by Carers UK in June every year to highlight the huge contribution of unpaid carers across the UK to our society and economy. This year it takes place between 8th -14th June 2020, Carers UK is joined by Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness in a bid to Make Caring Visible and recognise the role of unpaid carers in the UK’s fight against coronavirus.
Carers Week is a time to focus on the impact that caring can have on someone, and this year it seems even more apt that we recognise the unique challenges unpaid carers are experiencing during the outbreak.
If you work with an unpaid carer, why not think about how you might support them and get involved with Carers Week?
• You could use Carers Week as an opportunity to reach out to unpaid carers and run a virtual event or share information and advice. There are lots of ideas and tips on the Carers Week website www.carersweek.org/get-involved
• Show your support for unpaid carers! Add Your Voice to Carers Week by visiting www.carersweek.org
• Include useful information for carers (see more on Carers UK’s website) in a newsletter or on your website, or reach out to an unpaid carer you know with some support – many don’t know that help is available.
• We know a significant number of care professionals are juggling paid work with unpaid care for their family; around 1 in 5 may be doing so. Why not share information about caring with your colleagues? Ask your HR department how they’re going to make the most of Carers Week to let staff know about support available for unpaid carers.
• Spread the word about Carers Week and caring on social media using our hashtag #CarersWeek. Follow Carers Week on Twitter and Facebook to see how others are getting involved.
For many carers, life is a constant juggling and balancing act and their role can be stressful. Your reaching out to them could make all the difference.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 www.carersuk.org/coronavirus