Tag Archives: unpaid carers

Carers Rights Day 2018

smallerBefore you read this blog considered this, if you are an unpaid carer think of all the outcomes that you have experienced so far. Think of all the hardships that you and the person you care for has gone through.

Carers rights day

Every year organisations that deal with unpaid carers and support those using the health services come together and try to raise awareness of unpaid carers. CarersUK promote the awareness day and theme this year is “caring for the future”.

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Just so you know I will introduce the few terms in this blog. When I talk about an unpaid carer, I am not talking about a care worker. Care workers are paid to provide care to numerous clients. Unpaid carers provide care to those close to them.

Blood pressure measuring

Carer aiding her mother

Someone can become an unpaid carer for many different reasons. Unfortunately one of the reasons might not be out of choice. Considering the difficult role of unpaid carers, not many would want to rush into such a role. This is because there is a fear of the future, unpaid carers begin to wonder the following.

  • How their loved one will be supported.
  • How the carer themselves will be supported.
  • What happens if things go wrong.
  • Taking the unfortunate step to complain.
  • Wondering what would happen if they cannot care anymore.
  • Wondering what would happen if they loved one dies or moves on.
  • Wondering how they are going to cope if benefits are cut.

These are all serious issues and oh no laughing matter. If you have been an unpaid carer for as long as I have which is properly 20 years +. Think of the outcomes.

  • Has the lives of unpaid carers continued to improve over the past several decades?
  • Has services across the country decreased putting pressure on other services and unpaid carers?
  • Has funding increased for Carers Centres?
  • Has austerity improved the lives of families and carers across the country?
  • Has the number of carers increased across the country?

The statistics

Every year around 2 million people will take the unfortunate step to become a carer. Some carers will have to give up work to continue caring for a loved one, while other carers do not want to risk getting support from the benefit system. Like myself 3 million carers juggle work with a caring responsibility. Do not believe government’s being that all carers do not work. Plus caring is in a job itself, a very difficult job considering the outcomes I have mentioned earlier on.

Family

Group of people together holding hands

Do not get me wrong being a carer can be a rewarding job, but remember look at the outcomes. My aim is not to put you off in being a carer, but to remind you of your rights. I aim to remind you of your carer rights.

If you are an unpaid carer like myself. It is your right to speak up and tell it as it is. You as a carer should not feel ashamed if you have felt hard done by. Think of the outcomes if you feel that your loved ones life is ebbing away before your eyes. What is the risk? What is the cause? Who is to blame?

Never before has it been so important that carers are aware of their rights. It is so unfortunate that the care act 2014 can still seem so complex.

Carers rights.

Just as a note this is not an exhaustive list, but what is mentioned here are a set of important factors in the carers role. If you are an unpaid carer please consider what I have mentioned below.

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  • As a carer it is your right to get help with benefits and also get support to sustain your income.
  • As a carer it is your right to get support for therapy and counselling.
  • It is your right to get a carer’s assessment especially if you ask for a carer’s assessment.
  • As a carer you have the right to be fearful for the future, you have the right to ask for information.
  • If you are a mental health carer, the information you may ask for might give better outcomes for the person you are caring for.
  • As a carer you have the right to access advocacy, so in order to steer the ever-increasing maze of the health and social care system.
  • As a carer you have the right two access courses to aid in caring and learning about confidentiality in the Caring role.
  • As a carer you have to write to be supported with advanced directives, deputyships and power of attorney.

Final word

There are many reasons why carers across the country have a hard time. The thing is, carers can appreciate the awareness days, carers can appreciate strategies and policies set by carers organisations. Carers can appreciate the hard work the NHS does on behalf of their loved ones. Yet, if carers want real change, carers will have to lead from the front. Carers will have to implement a culture change. We must hear the carers voices. It is not just about organisation speaking on behalf of carers, carers must be given the power to speak for themselves and implement change.

Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

Carer supporting loved one in Mental Health distress

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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’?

Closeup on hands of stressed young housewife

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.