From time to time, every carer needs support to help them look after the person they are caring for.
Sometimes that will mean getting equipment installed in their home so that they can meet the needs of the person they support. Other times it might mean calling in home help so that they can keep up with their housework.
The importance of these services cannot be overstated. They mean that carers can provide the best support possible to their friend or family member whilst maintaining their own health. Continue reading
In March this year, the Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill. It’s been a long time coming – first announced in Autumn 2013, an extensive public consultation took place to look at what was required from a Bill for carers and how it would interact with other pieces of Scottish legislation. And of course, this was all done with one eye on the Care Act – seeing what was happening elsewhere in the UK, what we could learn from the process of the development of the Care Act and what carers wanted to do differently in Scotland. Continue reading
Whenever Carers Trust meets with politicians there’s one clear message that we always try to communicate: by investing in carers you’re investing in the wellbeing of society.
7 million unpaid carers across the UK are looking after friends and family – people who would otherwise be dependent on the NHS or social care for help or, worse, have to go without support altogether. Continue reading
When I agreed to write this blog post, I somewhat naively hoped that by the start of 2015 I would have a clear picture of what the next 12 months might bring for carers services, and that I’d be able to make some predictions about how commissioning is likely to change and develop over the coming year. But the reality is that it’s still too early to determine exactly how the Care Act and the Children and Families Act will be translated into reality and how these and other developments will affect the commissioning landscape. Continue reading
This week, all of the organisations involved in Carers Week – including Carers Trust, Carers UK, the MS Society, Age UK and others – went to Whitehall to launch the Carers Week quest. The aim this year is to really focus our minds – not just amongst carers charities, but across the NHS, local authorities and other charities. We need to work together locally as well as nationally because although we know there are around 7 million carers in the UK, the vast majority do not get anything like enough support. Continue reading
Our Policy & Campaigns Officer, Kirsty, explains why we have chosen to partner with the Men’s Health Forum on some important new research being undertaken about male carers…
41% of the UK’s carers are men. In older carers (aged over 75) the ratio of male to female carers is virtually equal with 50.4% of carers men, and in the over 85s 59% of carers are male.
Yet here at Carers Trust we often hear from our Network Partners that fewer men than women access their services and that they face challenges setting up male carers support groups. Continue reading
Well, the clocks have gone back, many areas have had the first snowfall of the season (even if it only lasted a day) and the shops are filled with mince pies, Christmas cards and tinsel. Winter is definitely here to stay, but for carers the winter season with its shorter days and cold weather brings with it extra worries.
Carers often have to worry about fuel bills, and this increases as the temperature drops and the nights draw in. Whilst rising fuel costs are affecting everyone, carers and the people they care for can be at particular disadvantage due to their unique combination of circumstances. Fuel costs can really mount up when people are in the house all day and need to keep warm, and the choice to care for someone can often lead to financial and fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty is defined by spending more than 10% of household income on all fuel costs. As carers are often on low incomes, and need to keep homes warmer for more hours in the day, carers can find that they incur higher heating bills in order to keep the ill, frail and disabled people they care for comfortable.
Carers in rural and isolated communities can also be burdened with extra costs, as these areas are not on the mains gas supply and more expensive forms of heating such as solid fuel, oil or electric heating must be used. Winter fuel payments are available to many people on certain benefits, but there is little support for carers who do not qualify for these payments. Many people will care for elderly parents who continue to live in their own home – their parents may have the support of winter fuel payments, but adult children who have given up work to care for them will not.
However, all of the main energy companies offer special tariffs and services for ‘vulnerable customers’ – people who have a disability or a long term condition, or older people. This support can include bills and correspondence being sent directly to a person’s carer, free energy efficiency equipment such as low-energy light bulbs, or ensuring people who require powered medical or assistance equipment like stairlifts or ventilators will never be at risk of suddenly having their power cut off, even if they are struggling to pay the bills. If you care for someone who needs extra support, make sure their gas or electricity supplier is aware of their needs and that they are on the register of vulnerable customers.
Carers Trust understands the pressures of the winter season on carers only too well. We campaign for national recognition of unpaid carers and young carers’ issues and the help that will make life easier for them. In addition, the UK network of independently managed carers’ centres and schemes offers services to carers and young carers across the country. This help ranges from carrying out a Carer’s Assessment to giving energy efficiency advice, providing training, offering help with the benefits system, counselling and one to one support.
This blog was contributed by Heather Noller. Policy Officer in Scotland. Carers Trust is known as the Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland.