Many disabled people depend on family members and friends to care for them some or all of the time. Often carers make the decision to leave their jobs, or work part time, in order to care for loved ones who are disabled. Whilst there is some help out there for carers in the form of respite care and financial help, it is nevertheless a tough job to do, both physically and emotionally.
Raising awareness of carers
From June 6th to 12th 2016 it is Carers Week. This is an annual campaign which is designed to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges that carers face, and also recognise the contribution that carers make to both families and communities throughout the UK. Throughout the week, thousands of individuals and organisations across the country organise and take part in events designed to draw attention to the importance of caring.
Statistics show that as many as three quarters of carers feel that their caring role is misunderstood or undervalued by their community. This year, Carers Week is focusing on generating awareness and building carer-friendly communities. The idea is that these communities will offer support to carers, helping them to support and look after their loved ones more effectively. It is important that the individual needs of carers are also met, as a healthy and happy carer is much better equipped to offer the level of support that the disabled person requires and deserves.
What is caring?
Looking after each other is something that humans are good at; it’s in our nature to care for and nurture those who need it. There are currently around 6.5 million people throughout the UK who provide unpaid care for frail, ill, or disabled family members or friends. Many of these carers may not know that they are classed as carers, perhaps thinking that they’re just being a good wife, husband, daughter, son, mother, father, friend, or neighbour, when in fact they are much more than that.
Carers fulfill whatever role is required of them by the person that they care for. They may simply be required to shop, cook, and clean for the person, or they may also have to help the person to wash and get dressed each day.
Caring may be temporary, i.e. to help someone get back on their feet after an accident, illness, or operation; or it may be long-term, i.e. helping someone who has a permanent disability. For those with disabled children it is a full-time, lifelong commitment; whilst some disabled people may only need assistance for a couple of hours each week. Every situation is different, but it doesn’t mean that one carer is more or less valued than another. All carers play a vital role within society, taking a lot of strain off the NHS, and as such they should be recognised and celebrated.
How does caring affect your life?
Caring for a loved one when they need you the most can strengthen your relationship, teach you new skills, and improve your confidence in your own abilities. However, without adequate supprt, caring can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life. It could begin to affect your health, make you become socially isolated, or force you into poverty – all of this means that you’re unable to offer the best level of care to your loved one, meaning that everyone involved will suffer.
Carers Week aims to increase awareness of the valuable job that all carers perform each day, whilst also finding ways to make the life of a carer a little easier. When the whole community is involved, carers can feel confident that they have somewhere to turn for help and respite when they need it the most.
If you’d like to get involved with Carers Week please visit their website www.carersweek.org for more information about events that are happening near you.