This year, Carers Week coming up next week, is more relevant than ever.
The coronavirus outbreak means that many more people have found themselves taking on more – or new – caring responsibilities for relatives and friends who find themselves in need of support.
In total Carers UK estimate that there are around 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers, whether that’s looking after someone with a disability, mental or physical illness or support for someone elderly.
Their theme for Carers Week this year is Making Caring Visible – to try and enable the millions of carers who haven’t identified themselves as carers to recognise it so they can start getting the support they need.
Are you an ‘accidental carer? Did your caring responsibilities creep up on you so slowly that you didn’t realise and it took a while for you to realise that you had actually a become ‘a carer’?
Are you a sudden Covid carer? Did lockdown suddenly throw a new responsibility your way, looking after an elderly relative, neighbour or vulnerable friend?
Are you an unpaid carer? Are you one of the millions of carers who do their caring out of love, friendship or duty while juggling the responsibilities of the rest of your work and family life.
Are you a covert carer? Do you care for someone but no one at work or within your network knows (or therefore makes allowances or support) for this additional role.
While caring for someone can be a very rewarding experience, it can also be an exhausting and isolating one, and the added challenges and complications of caring under lockdown cannot be underestimated. Becoming visible in four key ways will help you tap into support structures and services.
How to Become Visible
- Tap into services.Carers assessments can still be an important starting point, to establish what care, equipment and services are needed and these can still be arranged in many cases. They will also help establish what support can be put in place for carers as well as the dependant. It’s important to note that wider your visibility within the care system, the more the system will start functioning to provide support.
- Be honest with friends, family and work. It’s easy to become disconnected as caring pressures increase and social distancing and isolation only exacerbate the situation. Calling on your whole network for support is a sign of strength not weakness and will help carers feel less lonely and isolated themselves. Do you have a carers network at work or are any of your friends and local community also carers?
- Support from peers. No one understands the challenges of caring more than other carers. Speaking to others facing the same challenges and simply understanding that others are dealing with the same issues, frustrations and limitations can be really liberating and a great source of support – as well as information. Try local groups or branches of national associations as well as niche Facebook support groups.
- Be Loud. The more carers stand up to be counted, the greater the wider awareness will be in the community and the more their needs will be looked at, taken into account and their contribution to society recognised.
There are also a lot of resources for carers including local and national carers associations but these are a good starting point.
Chosen With Care