Today marks Carers Rights Day 2017, led by the national charity Carers UK. This year’s theme is ‘Make Connections, Get Support’ which aims to help carers across local communities to better understand their rights, find out what support they are entitled to and how to go about securing it. Organisations across the country are participating in coordinated activities to help promote the campaign.
There are approximately 6.5 million people caring, unpaid, for family or friends in the United Kingdom. As our population grows older, carers are supporting people with evermore complex health conditions. The number of unpaid carers is set to increase significantly, compounded by the current challenges faced by social care provision, meaning that there are more individuals taking on care responsibilities at home. The fact that larger numbers of people are becoming unpaid carers should be a clear signal for society in general that more support is needed to help individuals navigate the challenges of taking on such a role.
Carers often miss out on support they are entitled to. Access to the right information at the right time can make all the difference. A growing number of those individuals that don’t see themselves as carers aren’t identified as a result of this and they therefore miss out on practical and financial support that can prove to be vital. Over half of carers (54%) surveyed by Carers’ UK took over a year to recognise their caring role. As a consequence, this very real barrier has caused carers’ own health and finances to be significantly affected.
Carers UK recently worked with Future Care Capital to produce a report called ‘Securing the future: planning health and care for every generation’. The report looks at a new settlement for health and care or ‘Care Covenant’, underpinned by Future Care Guarantees, which aim to offer greater security for everyone in society. Carers UK contributed a chapter looking at caring now and in the future. Their chapter makes plain that the number of people forced to take a career break to support a loved one is expected to increase.
Future Care Capital recently called on the Government to recognise the economic contribution of carers to the overall economy and work with employers to introduce measures to improve carers’ ‘work-life-care balance’. Delivering greater recognition will support the growing number of carers at home and in community settings.