A Carer is anyone who cares unpaid for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support. Each carer’s experience is unique to their own circumstances.
The causes of someone taking on caring responsibilities are varied but can include:
- Serious physical illness
- Long-term physical disability
- Long-term neurological conditions
- Profound and multiple learning disabilities
- Mental health problems
- Autism Spectrum Condition
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Learning difficulties
Carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Many feel they are just doing what anyone else would do in the same situation; looking after their mother, son or best friend and just getting on with it, but without the right support carers may find their own health and wellbeing suffers in the process.
Caring Roles and Responsibilities
Just as the reasons why someone becomes a carer vary greatly, the variety of tasks that a carer fulfils is diverse. They can include the following duties:
- Practical household tasks such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening, paying bills and financial management.
- Personal care such as bathing, dressing, lifting, administering medication and collecting prescriptions.
- Emotional support such as listening, offering advice and friendship.
- Companionship such as supporting someone to go out into the community for shopping and appointments.
Although the distinction is often made between a full-time or part-time carer, there is not a minimum time requirement or age restriction that “qualifies” someone as being more or less of a carer.
Someone in their seventies who cares 24/7 for their spouse with severe dementia is a Carer. A teenager who offers emotional support and helps to keep the household running as and when the fluctuating nature of their parent’s mental health requires it — is also a Carer. The two situations are very different. Both are individual examples of the 7 million carers in the UK today.
Across the UK it is estimated that 7 Million people provide unpaid care to someone and while the majority accept their caring responsibilities, without the right support the personal cost of caring can be high.
Nationally figures show:
- 40% of Carers are men
- 1 in 9 of all full-time employees are Carers
- 1 in 6 of all part-time employees are Carers
- The peak age for caring is 45 to 64
Managing the Impact of Caring
Managing the welfare of the person you care for often means less time managing your own work/life balance, which can leave Carers feeling over stretched and under pressure. The majority of Carers struggle on alone ignoring their own needs, not even realising how their caring role has impacted on their own life.
Effects of Caring
- Relationships may suffer due to lack of quality time together
- Poverty, as Carers tend to become less focused on their career and often give up work to care full time
- Health problems, due to a high level of mental exhaustion and physical strain
- Feeling isolated and unable to find support
- Feeling a loss of identity as a direct result of caring role
- Unable to take a break from caring.
We know that in order to overcome issues like these Carers need access to information, short breaks and financial support, vital in helping to manage the impact of a caring role. Visit our services page to see how we can help.
Providing Essential Support
In the Valuing Carers by Leeds University and Carers UK, it was estimated that the value of care and support provided by family, friends and neighbours is said to be a staggering £119 billion per year. The latest figure is already 37% higher than this 2007 estimate.
Carers contribute so much to UK society that without their dedicated support the NHS system would collapse from a £119 Billion care bill it simply can’t afford. We believe carers need better recognition for the role they provide in society and we want to see more services that support carers in their role.
Our dedicated team of Carer Wellbeing Facilitators are here to listen and help make life a little easier for adult Carers in Gateshead, so why not get in touch to see how we can work together to help you to live the life you want to lead?… Call 0191 4900121 contact us here.