26th March 2018Category: Professionals
Carers make up just over 1 in 10 of the population, but relatively few (often only 10%) will receive support from carers organisations. This is despite the considerable challenges (poor health outcomes, difficulties in continuing to work, social isolation) that carers face as they provide vital support to people they look after. To try to reach out to more carers three Cumbrian organisations (Eden Carers, Carlisle Carers and West Cumbria Carers), supported by funding from the Big Lottery, came together in a project to trial new methods of engaging carers. They experimented with a variety of methods – a telephone helpline, working with employers, recruiting champions who could tell people about the carers’ organisations and signpost carers to them, and running dedicated clinics in the community and in other settings such as surgeries and hospitals.
For the vast majority of the carers spoken to by evaluators, the trigger which prompted them to get involved with a carers’ organisation was related to a change in health:
The involvement of a health professional also plays a decisive role, with over half of the carers we spoke to identifying the intervention of such a person as important in seeking support from a carers’ organisation.
These professionals are important for several reasons. Firstly, they helped carers to see themselves as ‘carers’ (as opposed to people who simply ‘got on with’ looking after a family member or loved one). Perhaps most importantly, a health or social care professional had a role in ‘giving permission’ to a carer to seek support, often being a more effective ‘permission giver’ than the carer themselves or a member of the family. They were also frequently a source of information about the type of support that carers could access.
What the evidence from this report clearly shows us is just how important health care services and professionals are in identifying and supporting carers. You can read a summary of the Reaching Out to Carers report here.
So we are asking everyone who works in the health care sector: receptionists, health care assistants, District Nurses, Speech Therapist, Physiotherapist, Podiatrists, Paramedics, Nurses, GP’s, Psychiatric Nurses etc. etc. every day at work STOP THINK CARER.
Is the person you are talking to a carer or are they likely to have a carer with them or at home?
Ask them if they know about their local carers organisation and support them to make contact with their local organisation.