This week is Carers Week 2020.
Carers Week is an annual campaign by Carers UK to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don't think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Each year Carers UK sets a different theme, and this Carers Week the theme is Making Carers Visible.
It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 carers living in the Isle of Man, and 1,000 young carers, all of who look after family members or friends who have an illness, disability, age concern, mental health issue or an addiction issue.
Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience but carers often find it challenging to take care of their own wellbeing whilst caring and find that their contribution to society is not recognised and celebrated.
Its impact on all aspects of life, from relationships and health to finances and work, should not be underestimated. Caring without the right information and support can be tough.
This Carers Week, we’re joining the campaign to help make caring visible to ensure that carers get the information and support they need from services and the wider public. We all have a part to play in making sure carers are seen, heard, and understood; and helping them to get the support they need to care.
Making Caring Visible will help carers get the information and support they need
Advice and information
Caring can be extremely complicated; whether grappling with benefits or considering how to pay for care, too many carers don’t know where to turn, or how to get the advice they need. There are many places that provide carers with these resources, including local organisations such as ourselves, or statutory services.
Looking after someone can be hard work and carers often miss out on the support services available to them. Getting a Carer's Assessment, which looks at what support they might need, is an important starting point. Arranging a break from caring, getting the right equipment to care safely, or getting support with improving their own well-being; services can connect carers to a range of support. The more visible carers are to the wider health and care system, the more their contribution and need for support will be recognised.
Visible to friends, family and at work
Caring can lead to feelings of loneliness and being disconnected from friends and family, as well as, for some, having to balance work and care. The difficulty of taking time away from a caring role, and the challenges of discussing the realities of caring, can lead to feeling isolated. Greater understanding from friends, family and colleagues about how to support carers and carer-friendly policies at work, as well as more opportunities for breaks and social activities, are all needed to combat feelings of loneliness.
Visible to other carers
Sometimes a few words from someone who understands your situation can be a lifeline for carers. Caring can be difficult and isolating, so speaking to someone who knows what they are going through can make a big difference. Carers Week is an opportunity for carers in our community to share experiences and build new friendships. Often carers do not want to discuss the realities of caring, but by sharing your experiences and talks about the difficulties of caring, you can help make caring more visible and more recognised. Greater understanding from friends, family and colleagues about how to support carers and carer-friendly policies at work, as well as more opportunities for breaks and social activities, can help combat feelings of loneliness and help make caring a little bit easier.
Visible to the general public
Most people don't expect to become unpaid carers, but the reality is that three in five of us will do it in our lifetimes, sometimes more than once. By raising awareness amongst the general public, we can better support carers, help more people anticipate caring in the future, and celebrate the huge contribution carers make to society.
During Carers Week we can all help raise the profile of caring within our community. Together let's Make Caring Visible.
We will of course continue to raise awareness of caring. We hope that if we can increase knowledge and understanding about what it means to be a carer then we will be able to better support carers, help more people anticipate caring in the future, and celebrate the huge contribution carers make to society. So please share any of the information we have highlighted this week, or your experiences, with your friends, family and work colleagues, and help us increase awareness of caring on island.
To find out more about carers and how you can help make caring more visible, please visit the Carers Week website.