Caring for the Carers12th March 2019
At some point in each of our lives, we may become a Carer for someone we love. What provisions are in place currently to ensure that there is a support system in place for these Carers?
People are living longer than ever, which is a great thing, as it means loved ones get to spend more time together. However, it does also mean that the number of people living with complex health problems, including dementia, has risen and that a growing number of people have to adopt care roles to look after family members or friends.
Indeed, according to statistics published by Carers UK, 6.5 million people in the United Kingdom are carers, accounting for around one in eight of all adults living in the country. Of these, around one million carers currently care for more than one person, while 1.3 million provide more than 50 hours’ worth of care per week.
Britain’s carers are placed under enormous physical and psychological stress. In fact, the State of Caring report from Carers UK in 2018 revealed that a staggering 72 percent of carers say they have experienced mental health issues as a consequence of their caring activities, while 61 percent say they have suffered physical health issues.
So what provisions and support systems are currently in place to care for our carers?
Respite Care Services
For many carers, the single biggest challenge they face is actually coping with the pressure and responsibility of providing care for a loved one on a regular basis. This can be especially problematic for those who balance care with work, or the 2.4 million ‘sandwich carers’, who simultaneously look after their children and their parents.
One of the main ways that domiciliary care providers, like Abbots Care, strive to offer support for these carers is through the provision of professional respite care services. By taking advantage of these services, carers can gain valuable time away from their care duties to rest, recuperate and focus on other things.
Crucially, our team of professional care workers will work with you, creating a tailored plan to support the work you do to provide care, as opposed to taking control. All of the people we employ to work in care assistant jobs are fully trained and have signed up to the Care Commitment, and overnight care is also available.
In addition to taking advantage of respite care services from professional domiciliary care providers, it is also important for carers to take steps to look after their own mental health. In terms of the support that is available, the mental health charity Mind has created a booklet on how to cope when supporting someone else.
Another major concern for many carers relates to money. According to figures published by Carers Trust, more than half of all carers borrow money in order to cope with the financial strains placed upon them. It is also estimated that around one-fifth of all carers have to give up employment, in order to prioritise their care responsibilities.
In terms of the financial support that is available, many carers are eligible for the main carer’s benefit, which is known as Carer’s Allowance. This pays a fairly low amount – just over £64 per week for a minimum of 35 hours a week – but it does provide some support. You can also earn up to £120 per week from work and still be eligible.
Based on the aforementioned Carers Trust statistics, 35 percent of carers miss out on state benefits, purely because they are unaware that they are eligible. In a survey, it was found that 14 percent had missed out for over 10 years, as they were unaware of the benefit or the fact that it was available to them.
Even if you are not eligible to receive Carer’s Allowance, you may be eligible to receive social care support, under the terms of the Care Act 2014. You will need to undergo a carer’s assessment to ascertain what your needs are. After the assessment, you may be eligible for certain other kinds of financial support.
Finally, many carers struggle to juggle the various logistical elements that go hand-in-hand with providing regular care for a loved one. Fortunately, there is a large amount of support available here, and actually using this support can go a long way towards helping carers to understand their rights and situation more clearly.
Generally, the best place to turn for guidance and support is Citizens Advice. The main help and support page for carers on the Citizens Advice website can be found here. By entering a postcode into a form on the main homepage, it is also easy to find your nearest Citizens Advice office, where you can gain one-to-one advice.
Additionally, it is important that those in care assistant jobs take steps to support carers as much as they can.
One of the best resources in this area is the ongoing learning and development page, published by Skills for Care, which offers a number of tools and resources for helping to support carers you come in contact with.