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What does a caring community look like?

caring community

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?

Caring communities

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.

UK carers

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?

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

As a registered carer for now 19 years I get offered to go to meetings 20 miles from me for tea+”bikkies” talk to other carers , even the social work wanted me to go with them on long beach walks , holiday breaks etc . Only one problem with this my wife will not let any social workers etc into the house , she doesn’t like them and as I work 24/7 looking after my wife I cannot take advantage of any of those offers . I am not complaining I love my wife and am prepared to die for her I am only making a practical comment on the reality of being a carer, there is no way out and I am not looking for one even though our local GP surgery contacted the Regional Social Work Headquarters who wanted to take my wife into care but my wife is happy for me to look after her , its her body thats maimed not her mind . Of coarse it isnt easy , no one said it was but I dont mind sacrificing my life for my wife its the only human thing to do.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Sorry to be constantly nit-picking, but there’s a glaring typographical error in the heading of this Conversation. There are others in the text.

Profile photo of PatrickTaylor
Member

The links, at least in the latter half of the piece do not work:
“500 Internal Server Error
If you are the administrator of this website, then please read this web application’s log file and/or the web server’s log file to find out what went wrong.”

I have not checked all links but recommend Which? does.

Regarding ” Which? Elderly Care is one of eight charities supporting ” . I believe that this is misleading as neither Which? Ltd nor Which? Elderly Clear are charities. Which? Elderly Care is an excellent front end of information gleaned from a number of public sources, and articles, as far as I know.

” Elderly Care is a free national website created by Which? to provide independent information on all aspects of care for older people

Relatives Needs: Understand how to deal with common concerns about elderly parents and other relatives, including dementia and falls.

Housing Options: Find out what housing and residential options are available for the elderly together with care services to help improve quality of life.

Financing Care: Learn about funding options for care homes and care at home together with available government benefits and other legal issues.”
greenwichcommunitydirectory.org.uk/kb5/greenwich/asch/service.page?id=6U3uyMPuysU

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello John, my apologies for the error in the title and those in the text. We have very high standards for our copy and on this occasion they fell short of those standards! I’ve fixed those now.

Patrick – there is a problem with the Elderly Care website at this time (awful timing!). While our tech teams work on an urgent fix, I’ve removed the onward links to the site in this post. As soon as it’s fixed we’ll add the links back in.

Apologies again!

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

I’ll give you a sympathetic thumbs up, Duncan. I appreciate the work that the various support groups do and know that they are valuable when carers need to talk about care and compare experiences. Also, they give advice about help and finance that might be available. Personally, in the ten years, or so, when care has been twenty four hours, the most valuable thing has been the ability to take time out. We have a reasonable idea of the mechanics of our situation and are able to assess what we need, not necessarily the same as what we get. My sister has more need for time out than I do, and it is particularly frustrating when the booked carer fails to materialise. I also note, with horror that most carers who help us are working twelve hour days, often for several days at a time and they are not paid for travelling between visits. Every one has been first class. Ninety percent have been of foreign nationality and the turn over of staff reflects the stress involved. Currently there are five regulars handing in notices. I don’t blame them. No one should have to work under those conditions. Often they don’t know from one day to the next where they will be calling the next day.
A caring society, should support both paid and unpaid carers. A caring society should not allow care homes to be a lottery between provision and neglect. A caring society needs to have a plan for the future aging population and it needs to know how this will be paid for. A caring society should have organised support groups for those who need them and this includes adequate time out for holidays, shopping and personal hobbies. We, after all, choose to care for loved ones without payment and this would be some recompense for doing this. When my sister takes a break, I shall be doing the cover. We are lucky to be a pair and not totally involved 24/7.
A caring society has to look after its most vulnerable members and, as shown this week, be able to respond and help in an emergency. A country should be judged, in part, by the way it supports its population. We educate every child, we try to provide health care for everyone. Our health and social services are stretched and we are unable to afford the service we would like to offer. There is currently a debate as to whether we should borrow more to provide more or live with what we can afford to provide. When people show compassion in every day life, that makes us a caring society too, because a caring society is one that begins with all of us and not just the state and professional care.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thank you, Vynor. I very much agree with you and you have summarised very well the essence of a caring society.

What I wish we could do is take a lot of the competitive politics out of the subject. There is a risk, especially in the present circumstances, of a futile compassion contest developing in respect of the highlighted situations and leaving the continuing support needs for hundreds of thousands of other citizens who are doing their very best in an isolated way to go unaddressed.

I very much respect those who soldier on looking after their loved ones by themselves and not subject to some municipal care structure that seeks to run their lives. We need to learn the art of providing the discreet support that is needed, when it is needed, and in the way it is needed, without having to conform to some doctrinaire regime designed for ease of management of the service rather than sensitively for the needs of its clients. I can entirely appreciate why Mrs Lucas does not want social workers to interfere in her care and I hope Duncan can continue to manage for as long as necessary. We need to learn how supporting the carer helps the cared for.