Welcome one and all, especially fellow carers.
So it is now the start of Carer’s week 2022. A week I have been waiting for all year and I hope you have as well. What is so special about Carer’s Week? It is a chance to use your experience of providing unpaid care to stand up and be counted for your efforts.
Carer’s Week is a collaboration of many charitable organistions seeking to make life easier for millions of carers around the country. The UK has been through difficult challenges over the years with the COVID-19 situation and now recently the cost of living. We also have the revamp of the mental health act and the new health and social care bill, which seeks to make the systems fairer to carers and those they care for.
However many carers around the country are wary of new laws and bills and to be honest unpaid carers have not come well off from past laws. It is so important the government, local authority and health providers seek engagement from unpaid carers regarding new bills and policies.
Going back to carers week, there are many themes and campaigns taking place. The latest one is on the “A Recovery and espite Plan for Unpaid Carers” There is an open letter to the prime minister signed by seven CEOs of major national charities.
- Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK
- Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
- Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, Carers Trust
- Sally Light, Chief Executive, MND Association
- Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
- Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness
- Jacqui Cannon, Chief Executive, The Lewy Body Society
The theme for carers week 2022
Each year, carers week has a theme to highlight the importance of unpaid carers and the challenges they go through. This year is no different and the theme for this year is “Making caring visible, valued and supported”. So why such a theme this year?
Personally it is well known that carers can end up being hidden because they are caring behind closed doors, but there are other reasons for carers to be hidden. Not many people think they are caring and just get on with it, some feel that caring carries stigma and to make matters difficult, health and social care systems often fail to identify carers. It is known that even if a carer is identified then there is always a risk that the carer can slip through the net. The reason for this is caring heavily relies on the relationship to the “cared for”, especially caring for mental illness. If that relationship fails then caring can be at risk and the carer could be at risk.
What about being valued? Is caring valued in society? Is caring valued in the community? To be really blunt about it, I am afraid caring suffers from being valued. Society does not deem the sacrifices others have to pay to care a worthwhile endeavour. It could be that people are compelled to care and that in itself could be the reward, but that reward is countered by the harsh challenges carers have to face, especially financial. Unpaid carers put so much on the line that they themselves risk their own health and wellbeing. It is so important we not only value carers but the importance of caring itself.
What about being supported as a carer? Many carers complain health and social care systems fail to support them. The risk is if the support for the carer is lacking, then this can cause a trickle down effect to the patient or “cared for”. The risk is the patient suffers at the end of the day because the carer is not getting that vital support.
I call for ALL carers to use this week as an opportunity to stand up and be counted, be diplomatic in your efforts, but make yourself known and be proud you have been there all this time to give a care. We are not asking much, just only to be identified, valued and supported.
Just to note, I will be doing a Share & Learn session at Carers UK. I wish to share my knowledge of the experience of care regarding ethnicity, mental health and carer wellbeing using my poetry. If you are a carer, see the link below to book