Who really cares about Carers?
You might think the government care – after all they give Carers a weekly allowance of £59.75!
Carers Allowance is paid to someone looking after a person for over 35 hours per week which equates to the princely sum of £1.70 per hour – does this equate to caring for the Carers?
‘I feel invisible. The government expects Carers to work for 35 hours a week for £59.75. How does that fit into the minimum wage criteria that applies to the rest of the population?’
Glynis, a Carer, 48 years old.
Some Carers care for more than 35 hours per week, if you average out the day at 12 hours waking time and 12 hours sleeping time, the hourly rate goes down to 71p per hour.
Would you apply for a job advert with an advertised hourly rate of 71p?
How can we begin to make Carers feel worthy and empowered when this is all our government are willing to pay them for their services?
‘I’m sickened that the government thinks my value is so low when actually Carers save the government billions.’
Elisabeth, a Carer, 58 years old.
We all care about Carers don’t we? Are we sometimes too busy to ask the questions? – are you a Carer? – do you care for someone? Can we not find a spare minute to ask someone – Can you manage this at home?
The Hospital Carers Support Project gives information, advice and support to Carers whom we identify within the hospital setting. This can include Carers bringing the cared for to a hospital appointment, Carers visiting the person they usually care for, Carers who are inpatient’s themselves or members of NHS staff combining paid employment with their caring role.
How can we as Carers Support Coordinators work alongside NHS staff to focus on how important Carers are and how vital a referral to a Project such as ours is in helping them through their caring journey? We all deal with Carers of newborn children with disabilities, young wives with brain tumours, children diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, someone’s beloved Dad who has had a life altering stroke, young men left brain damaged after a serious car crash and the list goes on. Life changing events don’t just affect the patient, they affect everyone around them. Every illness and disability, no matter how different is connected by one vital factor; the majority of cases will have a Carer.
Wordpic created from feedback from our most recent 2013 Carers Centre evaluation
Our Project helps Carers caring for people of all ages, all disabilities, illnesses and addictions. The stories that we come across on a daily basis can be extremely harrowing but we are here to try and make the road less rocky and a little more bearable. Getting a referral for a Carer at the start of their caring role is essential in maintaining their own health, wellbeing and welfare of their cared for.
A referral to our Project is a prescription for a smoother journey and future for the Carer and their cared for. There is an average of 566 patient discharges every week from the Infirmary of which the large majority will be going home to have their care continued by someone else…….a Carer. Strike up that Carer conversation and ask those questions, there are Carers still registering with the Carers Centre after their cared for has been discharged from hospital who have stated ‘I didn’t know anything about you; I wish I had known about your service when my Dad was in the Infirmary’.
Listening to what people are going through really puts things into perspective. Carers have as complex a life as the rest of us, family dynamics always come into the equation. Would you want your future to be spent caring for someone who had never given you the time of day or had hurt you badly in the past but now they are ill or disabled and expect your help 24/7?
We come across Carers who state that they have had enough, that they don’t want to continue caring, they now want to live their lives with more choice and the freedom of choice that the rest of us take for granted.
Next time an onslaught of visitors pile into your ward, or someone is bringing someone along to yet another appointment, think twice, is this the person that is providing continued care when this person is at home? They are often not just bringing up new nightclothes or a magazine, juice or sweets; they may have been a Carer for your patient for many years, often without support.
If you haven’t been a Carer yet, consider yourself extremely lucky, but be warned, you don’t choose to be a Carer, it chooses you and you never quite know when that will be…………
Lindsay Sim / Sharron McGonigle are both Hospital Carers Support Coordinators
JOINT WINNERS OF THE ‘CARING TOGETHER’ CATEGORY 2013 NHS EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Hospital Carers Support Project
Support & Advice Centre
Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary
Tel: 01387 241384 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of the wider Dumfries & Galloway Carers Centre