Our carers must be at heart of care reforms - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

A mother’s love is unconditional, an unbreakable bond that is never questioned.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 4:45 am
Unpaid carers truly are the backbone of this country. Pic: AdobeStock

Through thick and thin that underrated tie that binds only strengthens as the years continue to pass by.

And never has it been put to the test more than over the last year, as the world is gripped by the pandemic.

For those unpaid carers it has been an incredibly tough time as their usual support lifelines and networks have been stripped from them in a bid to keep their loved ones safe from the virus.

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The usual trips to day care and respite centres have been dramatically cut to prevent the spread of Covid.

And, inevitably, as services are taken away, in turn it puts more strain on unpaid carers as the relentless daily task of looking after their loved ones without a break only adds to the emotional toll they are facing.

Unpaid carers truly are the backbone of this country - each one of them is an unsung hero.

I’ve seen my own parents become human shields to support my severely disabled sister, with very little additional support during this challenging time.

Thankfully they have each other - unwavering support through the toughest times.

They are the lucky ones but sadly there are those who really are feeling the pressure like never before.

So many people are bearing the strain over the last year because of the sacrifices they have made to keep their loved ones safe.

Today new figures from Carers UK claim that more than a third of people caring unpaid for family members or friends feel unable to manage their caring role.

The charity warns carers are exhausted after caring for loved ones over the course of the pandemic and do not know how they can carry on without a break.

A survey of 2,754 current carers and 96 former carers carried out in April found that fewer than one in five unpaid carers were confident the support they receive with caring will continue following the pandemic.

The research found that carers lost, on average, 25 hours of support a month they previously had from services or family and friends before the pandemic.

It also found 72 per cent of carers have not had any breaks from their caring role at all. Of those who got a break, a third used the time to complete practical tasks or housework, and a quarter to attend their own medical appointments.

The six charities supporting Carers Week - Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness - are calling on the UK Government to provide £1.2 billion of funding for unpaid carers’ breaks, so that those providing upwards of 50 hours of care are able to take time off for their own health and wellbeing.

And as the focus continues on how our country recovers, the Government simply must put social care front and centre of its agenda.

For too long it has relied on the love and kindness of families to help prop up the creaking care system with very little support in return.

Unpaid carers must be at heart the Government’s plans for social care reform - it’s the absolute least they deserve.

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