Thursday, 09 June 2022
Carers Week is an annual campaign 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.
The theme for Carers Week 2022 is 'Make caring visible, valued and supported'. To mark the occasion, we caught up with Amanda Cummins, Deputy Head of Coproduction and Involvement at the Trust who has lived experiencing of caring for someone with mental health needs.
Q. Who is considered a carer?
A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.
Many people do not see themselves as carers and therefore aren’t aware of the support available to them. It can also be difficult for carers to see their caring role as separate from the relationship they have with the person for whom they care, whether that relationship is as a parent, child, sibling, partner, or a friend.
Q. What are the challenges of being a carer?
Caring for a family member or friend can be very rewarding, but it also has its challenges. Caring takes up time and can impact every area of our lives from relationships and health to finances. Whilst many feel that caring is one of the most important things they do, its challenges should not be underestimated. Caring without the right information and support can be tough.
We’re not only here for our service users and patients, but carers too. Supporting the needs of carers is equally as important to ensure their health and wellbeing is protected whilst supporting the needs of the person they care for. Carers Week is about shining a light on that, and ensuring carers feel visible and valued by us.
Q. How do we work with carers?
As a Trust, we are committed to informing, involving and supporting carers, family members and friends as partners in the care of people who use our services. Our aim is to ensure they feel involved and informed throughout the assessment, treatment and aftercare planning of the person they care for. There will always be a named care co-ordinator who supports the person using our services to achieve their care plan goals, and who carers can talk to.
We are also Stage 2 members of the Carers Trust’s ‘Triangle of Care’ membership scheme that promotes shared working between carers, professionals and people using services. Carers and carers-based organisations are key members of the steering group which oversees the implementation and evaluation of the six key standards of the Triangle of Care.
We also coordinate a Carers, Friends and Families Reference Group who meet regularly to highlight any gaps or service improvements they identify, as well as share information about the support available to carers of those who use our services. Carers can email email@example.com if they are interested in joining the group.
Q. What do we do to support and involve carers?
Each of our services has a named Carers Campion who is responsible for ensuring that carers and carers issues are promoted within their service. They have received relevant training and information about the support available to carers in their local area. However, identifying and supporting carers is everyone’s business.
We also recently recruited a new Carer Peer Support Worker (PSW) whose role is to support carers both practically and emotionally. They have lived experience of caring for someone with mental health difficulties and so understand the challenges that can come with being a carer. One carer recently described the sessions they’ve been having with the Carer PSW as a ‘lifeline’.
Our Lived Experience Network has approximately 70 carers registered, many of whom work with us on service developments, staff recruitment and various forums throughout every level of the organisation. We appreciate their support and would like to thank every one of them for their contribution. We will be coproducing our Carers Strategy over the next year and we would love to hear from anyone with experience of caring for someone who has used our services in the past five years. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Do you have a message for carers as we celebrate Carers Week?
You are not alone. According to Carers UK, 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers, and many will be experiencing similar things to you. Help is available, so please reach out if you need support. Carers UK has lots of useful information about where to get help and advice. You can also find a full list of local carers’ centres in south west London on our website here: Support for carers.