Are you a carer or do you know someone who is?

Many of us will look after an elderly relative, sick partner or disabled family member at some point in our lives. Often people do not think of themselves as carers at all but see what they are doing as part of their role as, for example, mother, husband, wife, son or friend. Anyone who helps with the care needs of a friend or relative who is unable to live independently without their help, without pay for their services, is a carer.

Did you know…

  • One in eight adults in the UK (six and a half million people) are carers.
  • Every day over 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility - that equals over 2 million people each year.
  • 58% of carers are female and 42% are male.
  • Carers save the economy £119 billion per year, an average of £18,473 per carer.
  • The main carer's benefit is £58.45 for a minimum of 35 hours, equivalent to £1.67 per hour - far short of the national minimum wage of £6.08 per hour (2012-2013 figures).
  • People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled.
  • Three million people in the UK combine work with caring, roughly one in eight workers.

(Source: Carers UKFacts about carers 2012)

Clearly, the contribution carers make to society and supporting vulnerable people to remain at home is vital. For many, caring is a part and parcel of life, but without the right support, there can be costs to the carers own health & wellbeing. Supporting carers is key to enabling them to continue in their caring role and maintaining their own health and wellbeing.

Shropshire Council is committed to supporting carers in their caring role and may be able to help in a range of ways: from signposting to groups or sources of help and support in the community through to carrying out an assessment of the carers own needs (a Carers Assessment) which gives the carer a chance to discuss any help they might need to maintain their own health and balance caring with their own life, work and family.

Carers will receive an information pack which details a wide range of sources of advice and support that might be useful, referral to the Carers Team at Shropshire RCC and referral to the Emergency Respite Scheme.

Other support might include access to training, support to return to or remain in work, respite or access to the Emergency Respite Scheme. This scheme provides an emergency response service for carers, with home-based support provided to the cared for person in the event of an emergency break-down in carer support.

However, many carers remain unaware of the sources of help and support available to them.

Often, carers are likely to be known by health services first either because of the health needs of the person they care for or their own health needs. Improving the identification and referral of carers by primary health care professional will contribute to improving the lives of carers.

What to do if you identify a person who is providing substantial care on a regular basis 'to a family member, friend or neighbour' on an unpaid basis:

Step One: Inform the person that they may be eligible for support in their caring role and an assessment of their needs (Carers Assessment). Check if they have already received a Carers Assessment. If not, carry on to step 2. If they have had a Carers Assessment, but their circumstances or the circumstances of their cared for, have changed or they have not had a yearly review go to step 2.

Step Two: Explain that they can ring the Shropshire Council First Point of Contact on 0345 678 9044 where they will be guided through sources of help and if appropriate, referred for a Carers Assessment to their area Adult Social Care Team.