Being a carer can be so isolating, especially if you are new to the caring world. Be it if you are caring for someone suffering chronic physical problems or mental health issues, you need to devote time and energy into caring for them.
Carers UK National Summit is fast approaching and takes place on the 26th of November 2015. Unfortunately if you are reading this blog post a few days before then it could be difficult to attend the Carers UK summit, but before I go into more detail about Carer Networking. What is Carers UK all about?
Carers UK gives advice, information and support to around millions of carers across the UK. Carers UK also campaign for better services for carers and help raise awareness of what carers go through. The thing is carers would be fine if they could afford better services, but being a carer for someone can usually be unpaid and yet carers across the UK save billions for the health and local services every year. Without the hard work and struggle of such carers then the health service would collapse.
No one is trained to be a carer and as a carer you can only learn as you walk the difficult journey step by step. With carers Uk, they campaign so that you never have to cope alone. So being a carer for over 14 years, what have I learnt?
There is still much carer stigma in society as some families and carers just cope with caring for someone, after all they are doing this for the family right? While other carers literally scream to be recognised by services as they feel isolated and ignored.
I have also learnt that it is so unfortunate to depend heavily on benefits and social services. Many carers are struggling so hard to care, that they have left work altogether. With little or no income to claim, we have many carers using free services like food banks and claiming what little support is left.
I have learnt that the vulnerable are under attack as austerity measures squeeze the resources available for those using the services and those caring for them. Carers have to now face tough measures to survive ever decreasing help from local authorities.
Language for carers can also be a maze as carers struggle to understand where resources are and struggle to work out NHS jargon or filling in forms to claim much needed support. We all know the NHS is trying so hard to fultil carers needs, but even the NHS is going through difficult times and we must now begin to realise that the NHS needs carers even more.
What is most heart breaking is that when someone has become an ex-carer, I have learnt that a carer has sacrificed so much time and energy into supporting others. An ex-carer tends to find that they themselves are in need of support because they have not been able to save for their own security. Many ex-carers are left out of pocket, homeless, no skills or lacking confidence to continue to provide for themselves.
With all these issues and more, no wonder carers and ex-carers feel hard done by.
If there is anything that can provide some comfort, we know that there are carer campaigners out there working so hard to make life tolerable for carers. Carers UK are one of these organisations that work hard to fight for and support carers up and down the country. Now I am not saying Carers UK are perfect as they at times can lack resources, but I do know many voluntary organisations depend on carer input and support.
One important thing I have learnt through my carer journey is that carer networking can make a real difference. Carers need to form that chain with other carers even if seek a listening ear. We can also learn from other carers and help other carers with our own experiences. It is so important that carers go to conferences, carers support groups, carers forums and summits. Carers can listen to the issues of the day and seek empowerment to speak out themselves.
No one should have to care in society alone. Good Luck in your Carers Journey