This week is Carers Week, when we pause and reflect on the vital contribution our 33,000 Carers make across Doncaster. Without their continued and valued support, many people would be simply unable to manage. Caring is absolutely vital, yet sadly, it is often misunderstood and not thoroughly appreciated.
This week provides an opportunity for us to take stock of the immense contribution our Carers make. Carers are often undervalued and exhausted and there is a risk Carers may neglect their own health and well-being as a result of their caring responsibilities.
Carers include all kinds of people, including children and young people as well as adults from all backgrounds. Although caring can be a hugely rewarding experience, Carers often find it challenging to take care of their own well-being whilst caring, and find that their contribution to society is not recognised, understood or celebrated.
Caring impacts on all aspects of life, from relationships and health to finances and work, and it should not be underestimated. Some Carers work full time and caring can impact significantly on a person’s work and their ability to progress in their chosen career, compared to those without caring responsibilities.
Caring without the right information and support can be extremely tough, frustrating and isolating. We need to make sure we support our Carers to help them in their caring roles and also to enable them to continue to care with dignity.
As a GP, I am very much aware of the impact of caring and the massive contribution Carers make to society for the greater good. This current Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted just how much we depend on our Carers and the significant contributions Carers make, every single day. Caring is absolutely selfless. Carers put others first. We need to be able to empathise with our Carers and walk a mile in their shoes.
And so we must all do everything we can in the way we provide health and care services in Doncaster to make sure we provide the right support to Carers and make it easy for them to care.
This year, the theme for Carers Week is ‘Making Caring Visible‘ to ensure that Carers get the information and support they need from services and the wider public. We should not assume we know who our Carers are and that’s why you may be asked if you are a Carer by your primary care practice. Circumstances change dramatically and every single day, people who were otherwise fit, healthy and completely independent, suddenly become dependent on carers.
The more we can do to highlight the value and importance of Carers, the better we can provide support to enable them to undertake their caring. Feeling valued is vital, but so is designing services which meet the need of Carers and recognise that Carers are often juggling caring with working, looking after a family and running a house themselves. Carers are very busy people and often lack time. We have a moral duty and obligation to ensure we consider the needs of Carers when we plan and design our health and care services.
We need to understand how caring impacts on the Carer and make things as easy as we can for them. That’s why we ask our patients to tell us if they are a carer so we can make sure we know and give them all the support we can. Simple things, like making sure carers are invited to receive a ‘flu jab can make a big difference. We also support young carers by offering double appointments and making sure their mental well-being is provided for.
I’m really pleased that health services in Doncaster are signed up to the All Age Carer’s Charter, co-designed alongside young and adult Carers. The charter underlines the importance of carer networks and links in the community to provide the right support at the right time, as well as reaffirming Team Doncaster’s public commitment to carers.
By making caring visible we can promote the value and benefits of caring as well as the support available to Carers. These past few months have really demonstrated very clearly the value of our Carers and the important role they play. The weekly #ClapForCarers demonstrated our appreciation.
Making Carers visible is an important part of our support for Carers, in the following ways:
- as an employer, by demonstrating our support to staff members who are Carers
- as a commissioner of services, by making sure we design services around the needs of Carers, so they can access them for those they care for as well as for themselves, easily
- by adding our voice to the national support for Carers and making the visibility of Carers part of the ‘new normal’ as part of the recovery process
By doing all this we will see Doncaster emerge from this pandemic stronger and better connected to all our local communities. Thank you to all our Carers for the valuable contribution you make.
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support. Further information is available on the Carers Week website.
Further information regarding local support for Carers available from Doncaster Council is available here
Doncaster Council and Carers UK have teamed up together to provide a range of free on-line digital resources for carers here
For those without access to on-line support, Doncaster Carers Services provides free telephone befriending and support, details here
Details of activities taking place during Carers Week for Doncaster Carers to have an ‘on-line’ cuppa are available here from Doncaster Carers Reach Out Service
Download this guide on essential information for unpaid Carers here
Health Education England: Free online resources for unpaid carers
Health Education England’s e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) team has worked with Carers UK to develop a free online resource to support the vital care that unpaid carers provide. The e-learning resource is for everyone who provides care and support to a family member or friend.