Carers: where would we be without them?

Canary_0657.colourWe all have a partner, relative or friend who we would give everything for should they fall ill or just need us around that little bit more. And it is probably in our human nature to care for another, in every way that we can, to relieve their sadness or pain. But this care giving can, over time, take its toll on that care giver and lead to them sacrificing their own physical and emotional health as well as struggling financially to deliver the care that they want to give and that they feel their loved one deserves.

Rarely have unpaid carers received the praise and recognition they are due. Carers UK suggest that billions of pounds are saved by the government each year due to the ongoing input of carers in our communities. These carers, who are supporting an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend make every effort to keep them in their own home, comfortable, safe and loved. The costs to them can be great; in terms of physical pain and emotional and financial strain. Their efforts and contribution to society are not recognised widely enough and are often not recompensed in any way.

The Care Act 2015 could bring a change to this, with every carer due to be offered a Carer’s Assessment, irrespective of the time or level of support they give, focussing instead on the impact that caring has on that person’s wellbeing and what they are prevented from otherwise doing. More companies are looking into ways that they can accommodate the additional caring responsibilities of their employees, recognising that we all have more than one role in our lives.

Our social system simply could not cope without these carers and no one could replace the amount and quality of care that they give. In addition to increased financial support being invested into supporting them, much more should be done to allow them a life outside of their caring roles. In the same way that technology can help people with illnesses and disabilities, technology can also help carers; to relieve some of their strain and to allow them added freedom to access friends, activities and jobs that they would like but have struggled to do so far. No piece of technology can replace human contact and skill, but it can certainly work alongside, add to and complement that which is already there.

We would very much support increased recognition of carers, ensuring appropriate levels of support are given to every aspect of their life and hope that the Care Act 2015 will be the first stepping stone towards achieving this.