/ Health

Where would you go for information on care?

Around 3.8m unpaid carers look after someone aged 65 and over, and that’s just in England. Maybe you’re one of them, or care might be completely alien to you. But if you did need information and support on care, where would you go for it?

Taking on the role of an unpaid carer can be fulfilling, but it can leave you feeling isolated, lonely, anxious and even depressed. It’s not easy for carers to find time for themselves, and even if they manage to they can be left feeling wracked with guilt.

That’s why it’s vital that information and support is easily accessible to carers, and why our new carers hub is designed to help bridge this information gap.

Daphne’s story

The ability to easily access information can have a huge impact on the life of a carer. During the development of our new  ‘Carers hub’ we spoke with Which? Member Daphne from Gloucestershire who has been caring for her husband Mike for almost 40 years.

Mike suffered a brain injury following an attempt to take his own life through carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1970s. Daphne struggled to care for her husband and hold down a full time job for 22 years with little help or support. One morning she found she couldn’t get up and was only able to stare at her bedroom wall, her body and mind had just given up.

After making contact with her local social services, within 24 hours there was someone helping her put her life back together. After completing a carer’s assessment, she saw in black and white all aspects of her life were affected by being a carer: money, time, health, emotions – in short, everything in her life was given over to her husband.

It was only then she realised that her health problems were stress related. By getting help she was suddenly able to see how much caring for Mike had taken away from her life.

When we spoke to Daphne and told her about the carers hub on Which? Elderly Care, she shared her advice to carers:

‘The sooner you get the carer’s assessment done, the sooner you know what is out there to help you. Don’t wait until you’re at the point of crisis, like I did. Find out what support is available for the day you might need it.’

A hub of information

Our recent research found that nearly a third (31%) of unpaid carers struggled to find the information they need. So the new Carers Hub on Which? Elderly Care aims to help bridge this information gap, by offering advice to unpaid carers like Daphne across the UK.

A key starting point for any new carer is to arrange a carer’s assessment, allowing carers to get information on the financial support and the services available in your area, as well as advice on how to take a break from a caring role.

A problem shared…

There are many facets to the challenge of ensuring carers have access to the support and information they need, from the fact that many in this position don’t identify themselves as being an unpaid carer, or some because they are short of time. It’s worrying to see that despite local authorities having information available, many unpaid carers are struggling to find and make use of it.

But examples, such as Daphne, highlight just how much of a difference the right information, support and advice can make to a carer’s quality of life. Supporting unpaid carers and equipping them with all the tools they need is vitally important.

So do you, or have you, cared for anyone? Are you a member of a national or local carers organisation? What do you think can be done to ensure carers have access to the information they need?

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Well as an official card carrying ,government acknowledged now 18 year carer I can agree to the above Convo . Its a 24/7 job your life is dedicated to it ,you cant stop doing it as you love the person you are caring for I wont go into personal details but yes it can be depressing especially if the cared for person is very unhappy about being severely handicapped but I dont give up . I have had help from the Social Services but my wife wont let them into the house to actually do things only relies on me ,nor can I get respite as my wife gets anxious if I am too long at the shops . Yes I am contacted by the local Carers society sponsored by the District Council but I cant even go to their meetings nor for a cup of tea to talk to people there as it would be a 20 mile journey . You make up your mind in life that that is tyour existence and learn to live with it , yes it doesnt help my health and I have been told many carers die before the cared for person . A lady friend cares for her husband and she has angina- arthritis- thyroid trouble and more so I am not alone . I have seen in this day and age couples splitting up for the slightest thing because they cant take a few problems in life and think that marriage should be a constant romance but the people I trust and like are those who accept their responsibilities and try to make the best of the situation .

Profile photo of DaphneSanderson
Member

Over the years of Caring I found that to survive the situation I had to make some hard emotional decisions and walk away from the situation to get some respite. I was of no use to anyone in a worn out state and needed to restore my energy and mental capacity. It was scary to start with but gradually became more workably. When I go away for a few days I cut off completely no phone calls no contact at all. In the past day centres helped but of course the cut backs have removed those options so important to carers. The ‘compassion trap’ can be exhausting you must protect yourself so that you can keep caring. Talk about your situation to the local carer centre or counselling service you might be able to arrange a way of coping with the situation and gaining your wifes confidence so that you can have a break.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Thanks for that Daphne , I was told the same thing from a charge nurse when I was in for laser treatment for my eyes last year . It very hard for me mentally to think of myself , I may come over a bit tough on Which but I have spent most of my life thinking about other peoples problems . I like to help people ,its built into me ,especially the old-sick and poor I just cant help it as I actually feel for them and wish I could cure the world but I am only human and like most people like to be held,cuddled , and at least shown a slight bit of affection . Even a word of encouragement is worth more than money to me . I learned long ago that while money can make you comfortable in life it wont make you happy unless you are loved . Thanks again Daphne .

Profile photo of DaphneSanderson
Member

You touch on a vulnerable area a thank you & a hug go a long way. You are obviously a great help to your wife.
Helping & supporting people is what I try to do especially when they face such injustice as Carers it is far easier and rewarding for me to do that. It maintains my sanity and takes me out of my situation.
Best wishes to you duncan.

Profile photo of Emma Callery
Member

Hello Duncan – I don’t think you came over a bit tough on Which in your response. Everything that you write touches a chord as we recognise there are many people like you coping with caring under difficult circumstances. On Elderly Care we try to give as much practical support as possible to people who are making difficult care choices and are now also trying to support family carers as much possible. It is through our case studies, such as that of Daphne’s, that we also aim to give more emotional support by showing others that they aren’t alone. Thank you for your contribution to the discussion – it is much appreciated.

Profile photo of DeeKay
Member

Here here Emma,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,That’ll mean a lot to Duncan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Caring is an uphill battle that just gets tougher…………..

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Thanks Emma and Dee I shed a few tears you understand me ,not many do and take me the wrong way . I got an email from Lauren ,yes Emma you can contact me direct , although ,if you realise my position I cannot travel . I am saying that as I have been contacted by several UK charitable/ ngo,s etc to attend their organizations to help others even abroad , the power of Which probably even my local carer society . Thanks for the kind posts