Most carers would not recognise themselves under the term ‘carer’.
Not many of us think of ourselves as carers, rather as husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend or neighbour who is providing unpaid support to someone to enable them to live at home. It would be done out of love and devotion for a family member, a close neighbour or friend.
Becoming a carer may happen gradually over a period of time, perhaps through caring for someone who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problem or can occur suddenly in a change of circumstances such as a hospital admission.
Are you a carer?
A carer is someone who regularly cares, without payment, for a relative, partner or friend, who due to illness, disability, vulnerability or frailty cannot manage at home without help. Carers can come from all walks of life, can be of any age and can be of any racial origin.
If you look after a relative, friend or disabled child who needs support to live at home then….YOU ARE A CARER!
I’m a Carer!
Being a carer can be confusing and daunting. There are often different arrangements to be made, disability benefit forms to fill in, information to find and several organisations to deal with – it can be a disorienting and lonely time when someone find themselves in new situations and expected to become experts overnight.
Carers have no training, no holidays, no fixed hours and no fixed salary. For some it can be a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year commitment.
Issues that affect carers
Caring is based on a relationship. Caring is therefore complex and every care situation is unique. However there are shared concerns and carers are more likely to experience:
- Low income (because they are more likely to be in a household with no paid employees);
- Isolation (fewer friends, social networks and work colleagues);
- Reduced confidence and self esteem (often as a result of isolation);
- Fatigue and ill health (twice as likely to develop long term conditions, including mental health problems, than the general population);
- Lack of choices in their lives (due to lack of timely and accurate information and all the issues above);
- Discrimination in their lives (in employment, accessing services and socially).
How many carers are there?
There are 6 million carers in the UK and at least 26,000 in Hillingdon
- 1 in 8 households! (based on 2011 census figures);
- There are also thought to be several thousand children in Hillingdon (aged between 5 and 18) who are providing care to a family member;
- Three in five people will be carers at least once in their lives.
The carers handbook is specifically aimed to carers who are over the age of 18 and who provide regular care to an adult who lives in the London Borough of Hillingdon.
The handbook may provide useful information for those alternative caring situation, but appropriate support for these circumstances can be obtained from other sources.