Who cares for the carers?

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“Carers should be routinely screened for signs of depression by their GP to ensure their health needs are not neglected, doctors’ leaders say. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) estimates one in every 20 patients registered with a GP practice is providing unpaid care. About 40% of carers are thought to be at risk of depression or stress because of their caring role” – BBC Website

This week people finally seems to have realised the hard work and sacrifice so many people make up and down the country as they care for ill, disabled and elderly relatives. In the Queen’s speech on Wednesday the government announced that it would tart to support those who care for others (means tested but it’s a start). The one thing that always makes me sit in awe while watching programmes like Children in Need or Comic Relief is th amount of people who are selflessly giving up their lives and freedoms to care for others in their family. Husbands and wives who hold the vow “in sickness and in health” so close to their hearts that they forego a life outside the home to ensure their partner has everything they need.

We need to recognise the work these people do every single day. The call from the RCGP is another spotlight to be shone on these carers and we should ensure that they get the support they need too. It’s no wonder that over a third are at risk of depression and stress because of the important role hey play. We need to recognise them beyond that level too and start to look at how the tax and benefit system works around these families and couples because without them – some stats claim up to seven million have a carer role of some sort (over 10% of the UK) with 1.25 million of those who have to care for fifty hours a week or more for a relative – the NHS would have to find around £120 billion to fund the level of care that they provide.

We need to somehow create a national volunteer bank or facilities to ensure all carers have support, somewhere to go, someone to talk to and time to themselves. These are currently provided by charities but the government must take responsibility too and support, with money, projects to ensure full time carers and young people looking after parents are given every opportunity to have a life as well. But with benefit changes and the idiotic bedroom tax they appear to be getting punished again rather than supported by the powers that be. We should cherish these people as they keep so many in our country going for nothing but love, and for that we should be more respectful of them.

If you or someone you know is a carer the organisation Carers UK has a great website to support hose in that position and guides on how to ensure they get all the available support locally and nationally. www.carersuk.org

JD

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