Caring communities is this year’s theme for Carers Week – so what does a caring community look like to you?
Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign run by Carers UK that celebrates and recognises the vital contribution made by unpaid carers.
It’s also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers across the UK. With this year’s theme being ‘Building Carer Friendly Communities’ – places where local people and services support carers to look after their loved ones while recognising that carers are individuals with needs of their own – we’re wondering what a caring community looks like to you?
When a community is Carer Friendly, it’s geared towards addressing the needs of carers. These can be a workplace, hospital, school, leisure service, or maybe even an online community like Which? Conversation 🙂
In these communities, carers’ lives should be made that little bit easier. For example, a GP practice might offer alternative appointment times to carers who are unable to attend due to their caring responsibilities or an employer creates carer friendly policies by listening to the experiences of their workforce.
There are 6.5 million people across the UK who currently provide unpaid care for a disabled, ill or older family member or friend. Nearly half of these carers also work alongside their caring role.
Many people still see caring as a private matter and they don’t identify themselves as carers, so they don’t always know what support is available to them. Here’s a description of what carers do, as described by Carers UK:
‘A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.
‘For some, taking on a caring role can be sudden: someone in your family has an accident or your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer or your partner’s health gradually worsens.’
The amount and type of support that carers provide varies considerably. It can range from a few hours a week, such as picking up prescriptions and preparing meals, to providing care day and night.
Caring will touch each and every one of us in our lifetime, whether we become a carer or need care ourselves. Whilst caring can be a rewarding experience, it can also have a damaging impact on a person’s health, finances and relationships.
Creating a caring community
This year, Which? Elderly Care is one of eight charities supporting Carers Week 2017, which is calling on individuals, organisations and services throughout the country to improve the lives of carers by building Carer Friendly Communities – places where local people and services support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.
Carers UK says that three in five of us will be carers in our lifetime, so building more Carer Friendly Communities is something that will benefit us all.
Do you have experience of a great Carer Friendly Community? How do you think a community like Which? Conversation can be more carer friendly?