In the run-up to this year’s Carers Week (11-17 June), our guest, Emily Holzhausen OBE, explains why it’s so important that we support our biggest care provider: those who give unpaid care for their loves ones…
A couple of weeks ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published new research that showed that if you provided substantial care, unpaid for a relative or friend, then you were up to 37 times more likely to report being lonely than other people.
Carers like these often say that ’their world shrinks’ when others don’t understand disability or caring. They can feel especially isolated when they don’t have time to go to social gatherings, events or just have a chat.
The focus for this year’s Carers Week, which runs from 11-17 June, is on supporting carers to be ‘Healthy and Connected’, recognising that caring for someone can make it hard to look after your own health and wellbeing, and your relationships.
Caring still remains hidden among our families and in our communities, with people often not recognising themselves as carers. And yet their unpaid contribution is vast – worth £132 billion a year. That’s equivalent to a second NHS. In fact, their caring outstrips any other type of care provided.
All of these families depend on health services and many on social care. Yet, as Which?’s ‘Care Needs Care Now’ campaign shows, the very systems that they rely on are creaking under the pressure and aren’t always there when families desperately need them.
If you haven’t provided unpaid care before, it might be hard to think what it might involve and, of course, everyone’s experience of caring will be slightly different.
Are you a carer?
With Carers Week coming up on 11 June, there are things that we can do to help this debate and directly assist families.
Many people take years to identify themselves as carers and get the support that they are entitled to.
Have you had that conversation? Have you ever signposted a family member or friend to support when they are caring? Are you expecting to care in the future and how will this affect the way you live, where you live, or your ability to juggle work and care?
These are all key questions we need to consider as individuals, but they will also all be put under the microscope as our government looks to see how we build the future of social care in this country for older, disabled people and carers.
Make sure you do something in the run-up to Carers Week 2018. Go to our website, make a pledge or organise an event to celebrate carers in your area, have a conversation and plan for the future – and get ready to engage in the government’s future debate on social care.
This is a guest post by Emily Holzhausen. All views expressed here are Emily’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.
Are you a carer? Do you sometimes feel lonely? What do you do to combat loneliness? Perhaps you’re about to become a carer: if so, what plans have you put in place? Or do you know someone who is a carer who has become isolated due to caring for a loved one? What could be done to help support them and others in the same situation?