A service manager for Gaddum Salford Carers, which supports unwaged carers of all ages says that although the sector is facing numerous difficulties, there is still help available for individuals caring for loved ones.
Speaking on the eve of Carers Rights Day Ruth Hannan, services manager at Gaddum Salford Carers Service, said that budget cuts are impacting on the sector, but many remain unaware of the help that is available.
“People also assume that if someone is really poorly because of a mental illness, cancer or if they’ve had a stroke or have dementia, that there is automatically a lot of support there,” said Ruth.
“But with a lot of budget cuts, it’s a lot harder to get help that was maybe more accessible before.
“The problem for a lot of carers is that they are all that that person has got and then they themselves become really isolated and start to struggle.
“People just aren’t aware of how hard it is.”
Ruth says many unpaid carers take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one because they are assume it is their responsibility.
“When it comes to caring for someone, people’s initial thoughts are ‘I should just do it, that’s my duty and I’ll just get on with it’.
“Despite this, it is very likely that at some point in our lives,we are all going to be carers, whether it be for a short period of time or for years and years.”
However, being an unpaid carer does not just mean looking after a family member with a cold or making them a cup of tea.
Ruth confirms that: “Being an unpaid carer often means supporting somebody with really complex conditions. From supporting elderly people with dementia to somebody with a mental health illness.
“Carers can often lose sleep, worry a lot – which in turn affects other aspects of their life, whether that be work or school.”
Many people can be caring for a loved one for many years before they realise that there is help available in their local community.
According to Ruth: “Most carers are caring for 5-10 years before somebody tells them there is help for them and by then, they could be really struggling.
“If you work in health or social care, you always have to have some sort of qualification – if you work in a care home, you’ve always got to do a moving and handling course before you’re allowed to start working.
“But for most carers, somebody is sent home from hospital or given a diagnosis, and nobody tells them how to look after that person and they just have to manage.
“We wouldn’t allow that in any other place, but we do that on a regular basis which is really terrible.”
“We have also found that people have much more complex needs than before, some of that is a lot to do with cuts to funding so other services may have helped them but they’re not there anymore.
“We do feel like demand is growing, for our service alone, with our adult service since April we’ve had over 100% increase in referrals.”
Carers Rights Day falls on Friday 30th November 2018 and is a day that makes carers aware of their rights and lets them know where to get help and support.
A day where carers get the recognition they may miss out on, day to day.
A day when organisations within the UK get together to spread awareness and information about carers.
Carers UK identify that on a day to day basis, 6,000 people become carers, often being something that they have not planned for.
Carers Rights Day focuses on helping people prepare and supporting people for their future in becoming carers.
Gaddum Salford Carers is an organisation working with unwaged carers who support and care for someone in their life, who without their care would not manage. The care and support they provide can be for anyone suffering with a long-term illness, mental ill health, substance use, disability or old age.
The one-to-one support, group activities, social opportunities and access to different services across Salford, often goes unknown to most in the community of Salford.
Ruth explained: “We have carers as young as 4 who might be caring for a parent or sibling with a long term condition.
“We support partners of people with serious mental health problems, parents of disabled children and we support a lot of adults who might be caring for a parent themselves or elderly relative.”
While the youngest carers that Gaddum Salford Carers support are around 4-years-old, the oldest carer that they have supported was over 100, with many being in their nineties.
Young carers shouldn’t be doing a caring role that means they miss out on time with friends or are doing worse academically but this is the reality for so many. #CarersRightsDay #carersrealities pic.twitter.com/41pkXDkZ5I
— Salford Carers (@salfordcarers1) November 28, 2018
Councils hold a responsibility for unwaged carers and have to ensure that they provide a service from borough to borough.
Ruth revealed that: “In Salford, there are 25,000 carers but that’s based on the 2011 census data so it’s likely to be a lot higher than that.
“This year alone, we have supported, about 700 carers”
In some cases, people find caring too difficult to take on along with looking after themselves and trying to take on work, school or university and so turn to suicide.
One of the biggest challenges for carers is not knowing their rights and thinking what they can do and what they are willing to do. Also knowing what services are available to support them whilst they support who they are caring for.
Gaddum Salford Carers offer a variety of services and hold fundraisers in order to help support unpaid carers further.
A carer’s breakfast is held on Thursday mornings, 9:30am – 12:30pm which offers carers a break and a free breakfast. Mostly importantly allows them to meet other carers who can relate to them on another level that their peers may not.
“We do wellness walks, activities in groups and all of it is to try and help the carer look after themselves better, even if it is just an hour’s break.
“It’s building those skills to help them look after themselves better, that is always at the heart of what we do.”
Gaddum Salford Service is holding its Christmas Jingle Jog, when a couple of the service workers dress in festive clothing and run 4k around Salford Quays.
Gaddum Salford Service are always looking for people within the community to get more involved and educated about who unpaid carers are and ways that they can help.
“Once you start to realise who unwaged carers are, you’ll begin to look around at your neighbours, your family and you’ll realise that’s who they are.
“For us it’s telling them that there’s help out there and encouraging them to get that help, that is a big step forward for us.
“Just because you don’t know about them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
“We want people to open their eyes and start looking at the people around them and the lives they lead and for people to know that there is help out there for them.”
Gaddum Salford Carers always welcome people to get involved, to do this you can visit Gaddum Salford Service, donate to Salford Carers and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages to help support the unwaged carers in your community.