Tag Archives: unpaid carers

Speaking up as an unpaid carer

Big problems - daughter comforts senior motherAs you may or may not already know, this website is dedicated to unpaid carers and raising mental health awareness. An unpaid carer is someone looking after a relative or someone close who has physical or mental health needs. An unpaid carer is not a care worker, carer workers are paid to provide support and can do most tasks out of choice, while unpaid carers do their role almost out of desperation.

This particular blog is about giving unpaid carers some inspiration to get their voices out there. Why is this? Because if carers do not speak up then it is hard for mental health commissioners or health services to work with carer needs.

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Being a carer can be daunting as very few suddenly expect to provide care at a specific time, although most feel that there will come a time when they have to support aging parents, unwell partners or even a friend. When caring for someone with health needs, there can be some relief that the ‘cared for’ has some idea what support they require. This can be be tricky if the ‘cared for’ has mental health needs and due to mental capacity issues refuses care or support.

It is vital carers raise their voices regarding such issues, especially if they live with the ‘cared for’. Many carers just cope from day to day thinking there is no need for support for themselves, but if the carer falls unwell then who will provide support for the ‘cared for’?

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If you are a carer, do not feel worried, frightened or scared to speak up about your caring experiences or caring journey.

So where can carers speak in regards to their caring journey?

There are several places and one of them usually can be at a focus group, especially if its run by a mental health service. The service may want to hear what carers think about a particular service provision, so it is vitally important carers take the time to provide opinions.

Other places could be about a mental health service carers strategy, or a mental health awareness event setting. Carers can also speak up about their caring role at a carers support group, which is vital if a carer needs to let off stream or get something off their chest. Sometimes a carer issue cannot be solved overnight, but most carers do with to be heard or listened to.

Other places where carers can speak is at carer forums, I chair many in south London and look forward to hearing carers ideas and suggestions. Carers need not complain, shout or always play the blame game. The focus is on how we can all work together although I am aware of the frustration with services and feeling that carers are not being listened to or not being taken seriously.

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If you are caring for someone with physical or mental health needs, please check out any important health events in your area. You have given so much to your family, friend or the community, it is time to be heard.

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The Care Act 2014

care-act-2014Welcome to another blog post. This time I want to focus on the Care Act. The Care Act 2014 is a major piece of legislation to put unpaid carers wellbeing as a priority. Carers have faced hardship and lack of identification regarding their needs for a long time.

When I talk of unpaid carers, I am talking about those who are caring for a loved one, relative, close friend or even neighbour. The Care Act 2014 heavily focuses on those who are WILLING to care and tries to avoid the casual carer. Unpaid carers go through so much and there are unfortunately still major problems with the Care Act.

The main focus for the Care Act is that

– Carers are entitled to a carer assessment
– Puts carers on an equal footing with the cared for
– Increases identification of the carer needing support

If you have the time to watch the video I have made explaning some of the basic parts of the Care Act 2014, then please do so by clicking on the video below.

The video covers the following

  • The main focus for the Care Act.
  • What carers need support on.
  • Problems with the care act.
  • What you or your family can do regarding carer assessments.
  • Local Authorities responsibilities.
  • How carer needs are provided.
  • What happens if you refuses an assessment?
  • Care and support plans.
  • Safeguarding.
  • Independent advocacy.

Although I mention that the Local Authorities have responsibilites, so do health boards, mental health trusts, housing officers, social workers, assessors and so on.

The Care Act can be a major force for carers like myself up and down the country, but it is only as good if carers or carer advocates do not know their rights. There are those who will take every chance they can get to ignore the Care Act and misuse their powers to prey on the vulnerable and when I mean vulnerable, it is not just the carer alone, but also the cared for. Still not every carer is an angel and there are safeguarding issues in some families, but as it stands the Care Act looks to prevent such crisis before they happen.