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We cannot take the contribution of carers for granted

Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, is guest blogger this week.

Carers provide care worth an estimated £87bn p/a. It would seem logical that at a time when resources are restricted, we do everything to protect this most valuable contribution. In reality, we take this contribution, and carers themselves, for granted.

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers’ survey finds that two-thirds of carers have used all of their savings to cover the costs of caring for somebody else. One in 10 has had to borrow at “loan shark” rates and 60% from friends and family. These financial pressures added on to the strains of caring, led 37% to say they don’t want to wake up in mornings and 45% to say they can’t cope.

The government will publish their plans to support carers in shortly before Christmas, but what it can do will depend greatly on the comprehensive spending review (Oct 20th). The current financial situation will force many to think only of the short-term but the long-term demographic trends point to an increasing need for families to provide care and support. The choices we make now will have long-lasting effects.

There are several reasons why we cannot continue taking carers for granted.

First, the excessive strain of caring causes widespread ill-health among carers from a higher incidence of stroke to mental health issues to reduced life expectancy for carers older than 65. The costs of a carer needing hospital treatment are multiplied by the person they are caring for also needing increased NHS and social care support.

Second, supporting carers has been shown to improve outcomes for patients, by assisting reablement and recovery. In addition, support reduces emergency and readmissions to hospital and delays the need for residential care. And we must do it for ourselves. Three in five people will become a carer at some point in their life. You do not want to be left in a system that does not help you provide care for your husband, wife, father, mother or child.

Lastly, we have a moral duty to support families who have given up their own lives and dreams to care. Before the general election in May, David Cameron and Nick Clegg sung the praises of carers, but it is not praise they want. They want help to care for the relatives or friends who need them. If the government wants to build a society that cares, it must support carers.

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September 23, 2010 - Posted by | Benefits, Budget, Social Care | ,

3 Comments »

  1. Just how much Carers are appreciated is shown by the fact that my wife and I had a visit from our care manager this afternoon, regarding respite care for my wife so I can have a much needed break, since my last break was 6, yes, SIX years ago.
    The care manager spent a lot of the visit complaining about how the council treat her and her colleagues and a great part of the time discussing personal budgets and finally I exploded and said if I didn’t get a respite break sorted very quickly I would quit completely.
    I don’t think she understood that I meant it. I am getting near to the end of my tether. She has said she will get back to me Monday or Tuesday.
    I live in hope.

    Comment by Colin M Baker | September 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. No its not praise we want. David Cameron should understand this.

    Colin i sincerely hope you get the break and support you need.

    Comment by Casdok | September 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. The whole move towards personalisation puts more onus onto the carer and wider family to save money. If anything it will be harder to have the carer’s needs considered and I’m expecting an increase in safeguarding cases as more councils go down the one-stop telephone helpline and progressively rely on carers to carry the load. Something has to give under this pressure. Carole is right – carers are taken for granted. They are built into the system but only as tools to carry out tasks. Not as people with their own needs.

    Comment by charles47 | September 24, 2010 | Reply


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