Hidden care army needs your support
ACCORDING TO the charity Carers UK, one in eight of the UK population is a carer and there are hundreds more young carers supporting parents or siblings who are hidden from that statistic. The number of carers is growing, with an estimated 6,000 people taking on a caring responsibility every day. Over a million people care for more than one person, often undertaking their caring responsibilities alongside other commitments.
With the health and social care system reportedly at the point of collapse, without these carers it would certainly fall apart. Yet the vital role carers play is often taken for granted — even, at times, by those closest to them.
Whether caring for a parent, spouse, friend or neighbour, being the main carer is a juggle and often a real strain. On top of their day-to-day lives, carers devote most of their time and energy to their caring role, leaving little or no time for themselves.
When the health and wellbeing of a carer deteriorates, the impact is felt by the whole family. However, with so many demands, there is little time for carers to look after their own health and wellbeing. This has to change and we can all do our bit to improve the situation.
While there is formal support available for carers, it has its limits. The answer to providing the muchneeded back-up often lies with those around them — a friend, synagogue member or neighbour can make a huge difference.
The first step forward is for us all to recognise the contribution carers make. You may know someone looking after their husband who is living with dementia, or their mum who is housebound. They are part of our army of often-unrecognised carers. By taking a few minutes to stop and think about them and consider what you can do to support them, you could make the difference between their coping and not.
Every bit of assistance helps when you are caring. Doing just one thing to allow a carer to take a break can make the day so much brighter.
Offering to visit or have a cup of tea with a person being cared for, so their carer can have some time to themselves; lending a hand with shopping, or going out for a coffee and simply listening to a carer talk can lighten the load, so the carer knows they are not on their own and there are others in their community who care about them too.
For many carers, coping alone seems the easiest way to deal with things — “just getting on with it” is something you hear a lot. But it is essential carers take care of themselves and seek the support that is on offer.
As a society we have to look after our carers. We need to recognise how much we rely on them.
If there are any carers who have managed to take a few minutes out to read this article, please do not struggle alone; help is available. It could provide you with the time you need to focus on your own health and wellbeing, which is so important both to you and those who rely on you.
If you are a carer and would like to know about support or simply to talk to someone in confidence, call Jewish Care’s helpline, JC Direct, on 0208 922 2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Could you give a friend a break from looking after someone?