Supporting carers: Guidance and case studies
Becoming a carer can mean many different things. Some people find themselves providing a few hours of help a week to a family or friend by picking up shopping ortaking them to medical appointments. For others, it can mean providing round-theclock care for everything from washing and dressing to making meals.
But what is certain is that the majority of us will find ourselves with these responsibilities at some point in our lives – estimates suggest three in five people will become a carer.
Many are willing and happy to undertake this role for loved-ones and in doing so help keep the cared-for person independent and out of hospital. But being a carer can take its toll – and some will need help and support to allow them to continue.
Young carers face particular disadvantages. Caring often takes its toll on their education, physical health and wellbeing. The pressures of being a carer can place a burden on physical and mental health. Carers are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and stress and nearly two-thirds of carers have a long-standing health condition. The impact is often exacerbated by carers being unable to find the time for medical check-ups or treatment. Personal relationships can also suffer and carers are more likely to be socially excluded.
Councils have a duty to make sure this doesn’t happen to such an extent that it impacts on their wellbeing in a significant way. That means we need to provide assessments and put plans in place for those who need help.
That help can just involve information and advice or it may require attempts to lessen the caring responsibility by providing respite care. Other forms of support, from help with employment to linking carers up with community services such as gyms and art classes, may also be appropriate.
But just identifying carers can be a challenge. Most are unknown to councils. Many do not ask for help or may not even recognise they are carers. So it requires councils to work with their partners to reach out to carers.