Hid­den care army needs your sup­port

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - Email

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 helpline@jcare.org

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Could you give a friend a break from look­ing af­ter some­one?

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