Norman Lamb used the Liverpool Care Pathway as an example, saying: “…there were too many stories about clinicians ignoring the concerns of families. When someone has a bad experience at the end of their life, it will have a terrible impact on the family of the bereaved. We must learn from this.”
The MP spoke about ‘How we can support carers to look after their families and also themselves’ to delegates at the conference, which also saw the launch of ‘The State of Caring 2013’ report. The report highlights five challenges to improve carers’ lives and is the result of a survey of more than 3,000 carers across the UK.
The report shows that many carers are struggling alone without advice or support and are seeing caring taking a toll on their health, family finances and careers as a result.
Norman Lamb highlighted the plight of carers using the story of Charles Lamb who lived near the beginning of the 19th Century and put his career on hold to care for his sister Mary, as that of early sacrifice, loyalty and dedication through care.
“The same story is played out in countless homes today,” the MP said. “People look after their friends and relatives with absolute love and loyalty. Theirs is an unspoken gift.
“One of the problems at the moment is that we don’t pay enough attention to carers. We see the patient, the service user, the staff, and that’s it. The presence of the carer is often ignored.
“If we recognise carers as partners, the people they care for will be supported better, we can take a more long-term approach to someone’s health and wellbeing and we can make the lives of tens of thousands of carers a lot easier.”
Norman Lamb spoke about both what is already being done, and what further work needs to be done, to support carers. He touched on topics such as parterships in care, identifying carers and supplying information, young carers,integration, supporting carers to remain in employment, welfare reform and NHS support for carers.
He admitted that not all the funding allocated to helping carers to take a break from their caring role is getting to the people who really need it: “The country is spotted with places where the money simply doesn’t get through. My position is that that is completely unacceptable. NHS England and the Department of Health are doing everything possible to change that.
“Carers need breaks and we must make it as easy as possible for them to get a bit of time off.”
Norman Lamb thanked Carers UK for the work they have done and continue to do: “The role of carers is absolutely critical and I am so appreciative of the work you do.”