Organisations across the UK work hard to raise the profile of carers in their communities. A huge range of local partners get involved, from support groups to social services departments, supermarkets hospitals, libraries and GPs - organising events, offering information and promoting the campaign through the media. These events help to get carers the advice and support they need and particularly to identify ‘hidden carers’ who may not recognise themselves as a ‘carer’ and not realise support is available. The campaign is also a key way of influencing and informing key decision makers about the needs and rights of carers.
The new Carers Week research is launched in the week to explore in detail the impact caring can have on carers’ health and wellbeing.
Carers Week is delivered by 8 national charities:
- Age UK
- Carers Trust
- Carers UK
- Independent Age
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- Marie Curie Cancer Care
- MS Society
- Parkinson's UK
If you or the organisation you work for are interested in offering some support, there are plenty of ways you can get involved - visit carersweek.org/events for details of events in your area and information about how you can help campaign for a better deal for carers.
Carers Week is an ideal time to raise issues and concerns about support for unpaid carers. Organisers of the campaign will be asking local authorities to make sure carers’ needs are not ignored when they are making cuts to social services.
The Carers Week team will also be encouraging better calls to action from GPs and Primary Care Trusts by highlighting how better support for carers can make a real difference, for example, by offering health checks, signposting to services and ring-fencing money for carers breaks.
The celebratory week presents an ideal opportunity for local groups and individuals to campaign for change at a local, regional and national level. Whether you are trying to save a local community centre from closing or lobbying government about care, campaigning and influencing policy is about creating a change. There are a number of tactics that can be used locally to highlight and call for change. You could consider doing all or some of the following:
- arrange questions and answer sessions at a prominent venue with a local MP, councillor with lead responsibility for adult services or strategic care lead, as well as the head of your local Primary Care Trust. You could also invite the media along
- send letters to your local Primary Care Trust and local authorities
- write a letter to your local MPs asking them to listen to carers’ needs or attend an MP’s surgery in your constituency
- write letters to editors of your local newspapers.
Here are some key issues you could consider when writing and speaking to local authorities and health professionals:
1. does your local authority or health and social care trust have good data available on carers health and those in poor health?
2. do you have a carers Health and Well-being Planning Board?
3. has the local authority carried out an impact assessment of the effects of the cuts on carers? Especially in regards to health and well-being/ability to work etc.
1. are you care aware? (e.g. do you recognise the signs of a carer at breaking point, can you identify a carer, even though they sometimes don't identify themselves?)
2. how are Primary Care Trusts protecting money for breaks (is the money ring-fenced?)
3. are your carers offered health checks?
4. is there flexibility on the part of GP practices to recognise specific carer needs regarding appointments?
5. are you proactive in offering stress management techniques?
6. do you advise on nutrition for carers and their families?
For more information go to carersweek.org.