WHO IS A CARER?
A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member, friend, partner or neighbour whose health and well-being would suffer without their help. This could be due to illness, disability, frailty, a mental health issue or addiction or substance misuse problems.
A carer can be a person of any age, from a child to an adult. A parent carer is a parent or guardian who provides care and support to their child due to disability, illness or complex care needs. Parent carers are likely to support their child for many months or years and can continue after some children have begun living independently. A young carer is a person under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, such as a parent or sibling, who has an illness, disability or mental health issue.
Carers may care for more than one person, and some themselves have a disability or illness. 3 in 5 people will become a carer at some point in their life, sometimes more than once. Anyone can become a carer, at any time, due to a sudden event such as an accident, or through a gradual process when a person’s physical or mental health slowly deteriorates.
"I was 68 when I my husband had a stroke. Since then I have been his primary carer. Caring can happen to anyone at any time and for me it was completely unexpected."
ROSE, AGED 73
WHAT MIGHT A CARER DO?
Carers can provide both practical and emotional support to the people they care for.
Carers may help with the issues of daily living, domestic tasks such as cooking and cleaning, the finances of the person they provide care for, and physical tasks such as lifting and assisting with mobility.
Carers are also responsible for ensuring those who they care for are safe and well looked after. This may mean that they have to undertake personal care tasks, the supervision and administration of medication and feeding tubes, and safety supervision.
The type and amount of support provided may vary considerably from carer to carer depending upon individual needs. Therefore, it is not possible to fully define the role of a carer.
Caring roles can vary over time and can be difficult to predict from day to day. Each situation is different, and the role of caring will not be the same for everyone.
HOW DOES CARING AFFECT SOMEONE'S LIFE?
Looking after a loved one can affect a carers health. Many carers have reported that their mental health has suffered as a direct implication of their caring role. The physical side of caring also has an impact. People with care needs may need help getting in and out of bed, may need lifting into a wheelchair or hoist, or may need help with movement. This means caring can be very physical demanding and as a result, can affect a carers health.
Being a carer also has social implications. Carers often miss out on socialising if their loved ones can't be left on their own.
Young carers can find it difficult to juggle their caring role with their education. Having a parent or sibling with a care need can disrupt home life and can be exhausting for young people meaning their education can suffer.
Carers can struggle to manage their employment with caring. Caring can be time-consuming and carers often have to manage their loved ones' medical appointments and care which can lead to absences from work. Caring can also lead to a reduction in hours or giving up work completely.
Caring can cause additional expenses which can put a financial strain on carers. People with care needs may need additional care, specialist equipment and transport which can be very expensive. Carers often report having to use their own savings to fund caring and therefore struggling with money.
CARING IN THE ISLE OF MAN
Statistics from the Isle of Man Census Report 2011 indicate that there are 3,485 carers living in the Isle of Man. However, it is estimated that the true number of carers on island is over 10,000. It is also estimated that there are over 1,000 young carers living on island.
Our island's carers save our local economy between £40 and £90 million every year. This shows how important carers are and how much support they are providing. Nearly a quarter of these carers are providing over 50 hours a week and for some, this is in addition to full or part time employment.
The number of carers is set to increase even more over the next 10 years meaning we will need to provide even more care hours.