Carers missing out on available support

Posted on: 20 November 2017

With an estimated 6.5 million people in the UK providing unpaid care to family members and friends, Devon authorities are urging carers to take a moment, for themselves.

There are about 90,000 people providing unpaid care for loved ones and friends in Devon; more if you include Plymouth and Torbay.

Many carers don’t see themselves as ‘carers’; they feel that they’re just doing what families and friends do for each other when they need help, and they’re not going to make an issue of it.

But Devon County Council and Devon’s CCGs say, ‘Do make an issue of it. It’s important that you do, because there’s information and support available that you’re missing out on otherwise.’

And missing out on support has any number of consequences the Council and CCGs warn, for both the carer and the person that they’re caring for.

It’s Carers Rights Day this week, (Friday 24 November). There are events planned throughout the week to raise aware of carers and caring around the county. A list of the activity is below.

To raise awareness further, Devon County Council and the CCGs have announced ‘six things you need to know if you’re a carer’.

– You’re not alone – nationally there’s about 6.5 million people caring for other people. In Devon alone (without Torbay and Plymouth) that’s likely to be about 90,000.

– It’s not said enough, but what you are doing is important and valuable, and we want you to feel supported.

-There’s a wide range of information and support available for carers in Devon. The first step is realising that you’re a carer and contacting Devon Carers Helpline Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday mornings 9am to 1pm 03456 434 435. Leave a message outside these hours or if its busy.

– If you are working, you have rights to recognition as a carer at work, including the right to request flexible working and to protection from discrimination. Carers UK has great information about rights at work or the advice line 0808 808 7777 Monday and Tuesday 10.00- 4.00 pm.

– It’s really important you are able to look after your own health, and the Care Act 2014 means you can have someone to talk to, advice and other kinds of support so you can be as well as possible, care safely, have a break if you need it, and be a person in your own right – contacting Devon Carers is the first step to finding out what there is that can help you in your own circumstances.

– You’re really not alone. Yes, we’ve said it twice, but that’s because it’s really important. So often carers feel alone and isolated, their caring as a responsibility on their shoulders alone. That’s understandable, but it’s unfair on yourself to assume that responsibility alone. And help is available.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for carer support, said:

“We already support around 20,000 carers in Devon, but we know there are others who have not yet realised that support is available.

“Carers tell us that what they want most is the information and support to enable them to care for their family member, friend or neighbours. We want to work with carers to ensure that they can continue to live their lives fully and independently.”

Research shows that most carers take years to recognise their caring role, and all of that time they’re missing out on support available.

In a survey by Carers UK of over 5,682 current carers:

– Half said that missing out on support had an impact on their physical health.
– Three quarters of carers suffered from stress and anxiety because they missed out on support.
– Nearly two-thirds said that missing out on support put a strain on their relationships with friends and family.
– More than half said it negatively impacted on their finances.
– And many said that they had given up work in order to care, because they hadn’t got support.

“It can’t be underestimated how vital carers are not least to the people they’re caring for,” said Cllr Leadbetter.

“Lots of people who provide care need support. They’re entitled to it, but too few are getting that support. We want that to change. We’d like unpaid carers in Devon to make themselves known by calling Devon Carers, so that they can receive the help they need.”

Dr Simon Kerr, a GP in Devon and Chair of the Eastern locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, said:

“Carers fulfil an increasingly important role in looking after ill, elderly or disabled family and friends. It can be immensely rewarding, but without practical, emotional and financial support, being a carer can be isolating, can affect physical and mental health and can lead to money worries.

“Many regard their role as a labour of love or duty, and soldier on. But it’s really important for the carer and the person they are caring for that they recognise their role, and have access to the wide range of help and support available to them.”

Lorraine Webber, Deputy Director of Quality Assurance & Improvement (Lead Nurse) at South Devon and Torbay CCG, is supporting Carers Rights Day. She said:

“Latest figures show that three in five people will become carers at some point, so it is important for us all to remember that carers can struggle to cope physically, emotionally and financially if they don’t have the right support.

“As a carer it is easy to feel that your efforts to look after a loved one are not valued, so I would urge carers to let Devon Carers and their friends and family know about their caring role.

“We should all recognise that carers are individuals who have their own needs and will benefit from some support.”

Events and activities to raise awareness of carers and caring, include:

Bideford. Atlantic Village Shopping Centre. Wednesday 22 November. 10am to 1pm. Information stand.

Bideford. Asda. Thursday 23 November. 10am to 1pm. Awareness raising.

Barnstaple. North Devon District Hospital restaurant. Monday to Friday (stall staffed Tuesday to Thursday). 10am to 4pm approx. Awareness raising.

Bovey Tracey. Bovey Youth Cafe. Friday 24 November. 10:30 to 1:30pm. Coffee morning answering queries on Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Court of Protection, Care Planning.

Dawlish. Dawlish Community Hospital. Monday 20 November. 2pm to 4pm. Open sessions on carers rights, and information available.

Ivybridge. Watermark Centre. Friday 24 November. 1pm to 4pm. Information stand.

Totnes. Seven Stars Hotel. Friday 24 November. 10am to 2pm. Drop in.

Exeter. CoLab on Sidwell Street. Friday 24 November. 10am to 4pm. Drop in with information and advice.

Exeter. Royal Devon and Exeter main foyer. Monday to Friday (stall staffed Tuesday to Thursday). 10am to 4pm. Awareness raising.

Budleigh Salterton. Budleigh Salterton Surgery. Friday 24 November. 10am to 12pm. Awareness raising

Exmouth. Age Concern Exmouth. Friday 24 November. 10am to 1pm. Awareness raising.

Paignton. Paignton Library. Friday 24 November. 10am to 1pm. Awareness raising.

Brixham. Brixham Carers Centre. Saturday 25 November. 3pm to 5pm. Celebrating carers rights as part of the annual Mince Pies and More event.

Plymouth. Copthorne Hotel. Friday 24 November. 11am to 2pm. Rights and Information day

6 comments on “Carers missing out on available support

  1. Carole says:

    There seems to be an issue with services if the person cared for doesn’t live in the same council area as the carer, I have found this as I live in the area covered by Devon County Council but the person I care for lives in Torbay.

    • Hi Carole. Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting, but according to law, the local authority in which the cared-for person is resident is responsible for services to the carer, ie not the local authority in whose area the carer lives. Either way, you have the same legal rights regardless, even though local authorities decide their own policies and ways of doing things. You can contact Carers services in Torbay by calling Torbay Signposts for Carers on 01803 666620. I hope that helps.

  2. Tracy Roberts says:

    Many many people are carers and have to work they are left out of most things. How about thinking of them and doing some stuff in the evenings and weekends.

  3. jason says:

    Sometimes carers cannot access appropriate support due to the fact that they are caring for others and have no time to do so. It would be nice to have a database of all carers and a body of people who could then give out support as needed rather than carers going out of there way for it.

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