Carers’ Rights Awareness Day

Carers’ Rights Awareness Day

Written by Katherine Baterip, Compliance Support

The 24th of November 2017 is Carer’s Rights Awareness Day. This year’s theme is ‘to make connections, and get support’ with key aims to ‘make carers aware of their rights,’ ‘let carers know where to get help and support,’ as well as ‘raising awareness of carers’ needs.’

There are currently 7 million carers in the UK, and every day another 6000 people take on a caring role. According to Carers Trust, 3 in 5 people will be a carer at some point in their life.

Statistics from Carers UK and NHS England have shown that unfortunately one in five of these carers are forced to give up work due to the responsibility, however one of the benefits they may be eligible to claim for is ‘Carer’s Allowance.’ Though this only amounts to a weekly pay-out of £62.10 equalling £1.77 an hour based on 35 hours worked (and some carers can often work in excess of 50 hours each week). As well as financial difficulties, taking on caring responsibilities can also have a negative impact on an individual’s health as carers are twice as likely to suffer from ill health compared to non-carers, and more than 70% of all carers have suffered with a mental illness at some time in their life.  

In the UK, there are currently 800,000 people living with dementia, two thirds of which live at home and are mostly supported by unpaid carers. This support is relied on heavily by The NHS as its care they do not need to fund. BBC News have released figures from a study that estimated unpaid carers save the UK economy almost £60bn each year. Carers clearly save NHS England money, so it is vital for every NHS England service to provide advice and resources for carers to look after their own personal welfare, which will enable them to continue to provide this essential care to others.

Ways in which healthcare services support carers

GP Practices have started to provide ‘carer-friendly’ practices and provide a wide range of support, including flexible appointment times, home visits when necessary, specialist information, and advice on the medical conditions of the person they care for. Some practices also implement policies for carers by encouraging them to make themselves known within the practice, so GPs can review how they are managing on a regular basis. Carers are also offered support for their own well-being, such as free health checks, flu jabs and ‘GP Carer Breaks.’

A number of practices online have a ‘Carer’s Direct’ page, signposting support on the NHS Choices website, and including links to offer advice on including taking a breakcare home optionsbenefits available to them among other topics. 

Pharmacies offer support in a variety of different ways such as offering home deliveries for medication, regular reviews of medication (with the patients’ permission), advice on side effects and how to administer medication.

Dental Practices can target their support more to the individual being cared for, which in turn can make the carers’ role in regards to oral health easier. Some dentists offer home visits to save travelling, or in more complex scenarios, refer the individual to a community dental service. Dentists also work alongside the carer, educating them on how to check oral health, discussing the patient’s diet, and anticipating their future needs.

NHS England offers financial support for carers. If the carer is on a number of different benefits they may be entitled to free prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and reimbursement of hospital fares.

Further to this, NHS England provides a ‘Carers Direct Helpline’ where Carers can get support over the phone, from an online enquiry form or a web-chat. They provide information to help make decisions about personal support and the needs of the dependant such as benefits, budgets, balancing work and education.

As a national service, NHS England are perfectly placed as a continuous point of contact for carers, and are in a position to be able to provide advice, or signpost to specialist support in the local area. Further ways they can help have been published on Carers Week.

Below are some links to websites that can provide further advice and support to carers if required.

-Carers UK provides a variety of help and advice regarding financial support, health and work.

-Carers Direct Helpline can give carers information to help make decisions about their personal support needs and the needs of the person they are looking after.

-Carers Trust is a charity dedicated to improving support, services and recognition for carers.

-Turn2Us offers financial support and advice on what benefits carers may be entitled to.

-MIND provides information on how carers can look after themselves and their mental wellbeing. 

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