Carers Week is an annual event founded to honour the contribution carers make to families and individuals. Carers face many challenges, including disproportionate freedoms and heightened responsibilities. Therefore the aim of carers week is to “Make Caring Visible and Valued”.
According to carersweek.org ‘There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers’. Within that number is a diverse community of individuals, with responsibilities/needs as varied as the carers themselves. Those who require support may have a disability, a long term illness or need support in their old age. Carers can often be parents, family members, friends or paid care support. Many of these people are thrust into a life of care with little experience, and the change in lifestyle can be overwhelming and upsetting. Often those who need care will require round the clock support, leaving little time for the carers themselves.
Carers heightened responsibilities can often result in neglecting their own physical and emotional wellbeing; for example, loss of sleep, high stress levels or poor diet due to tiredness. Finances and changing of circumstances may also be an added stress for many carers, especially in the events of the last year. Research carried out by Carers UK shows that 72% of carers have had no break from their caring role since the beginning of Covid-19, many shielding to protect themselves and those they care for from the virus.
One carer, Christie, spoke to Carers UK about caring for her mum, who has complex needs, during the pandemic. She said the sense of being invisible and forgotten has never been more intense than ever in the past 11 months, and that she feels alone.
“Caring for my mum is going to get even harder and there's no help for me. The future is very scary. To have the burden of financial problems off of our chests would make our lives a lot easier – it’d be one less stress to have to think about”.’
Many financial/emotional support avenues are available to carers in West Sussex. For example, the Carer Health And Wellbeing Fund run by Carers Support West Sussex. “The money from the fund can be used flexibly on purposes which would enhance a carer’s health and/or wellbeing; for instance carers have previously used the money such as gym or swimming sessions, breaks away, massage and de-stressing therapies.”
To find out more information or to begin an application please visit: https://www.carerssupport.org.uk/carer-health-and-wellbeing-fund
Another great service is the Carers Health Team, a free service available through the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. The service offers a variety of support -
“We signpost them to a range of free local services and opportunities to help keep them active, creative and social. (We) deal with the complex health and social care systems, and challenges caring for friends, family and other vulnerable people.” For more information please visit: https://www.sussexcommunity.nhs.uk/services/all-services.htm?postid=108921
Carers Support West Sussex is an umbrella service that provides ‘free, confidential and impartial information and support to carers in West Sussex.’ This service specifically helps carers to stay well and take time out from their caring role if necessary. They can also help with options for financial support and other entitlements. For more information please visit: https://www.carerssupport.org.uk/