The research, published on the Carers Week website, shows that support provided for the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers is hugely variable, with 65% of carers questioned characterising one or more of their local services as not being ‘carer-friendly’ as it fails to recognise and support them in their caring role.
According to the survey, pharmacies were largely considered (by 67% of carers) to be carer-friendly. However, at least one in five carers felt that GP (20%) and hospital services (24%) were not carer-friendly.
The 2011 Census revealed that “carers providing round the clock care are more than twice as likely to be in bad health than non-carers,” and Carers Week Manager, Diana Walles, is worried about the impact of non-carer-friendly services on carers.
“It can make a huge difference to the lives of carers when they are supported by their local services and communities,” she said.
“The variation in the quality of carer-friendly services across the country is putting the health of carers, and their ability to support the people they care for, at risk. This Carers Week, we’re trying to change this reality. We’re calling on individuals and organisations to think about what they can do to improve the lives of carers in their community.”
Carers Week kicked off yesterday and runs until this Sunday, with thousands of events taking place across the country to mark the week. Carers UK has teamed up with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support and MS Society, all of which are hoping to raise awareness of the challenges that carers in the UK face.
The theme of the week is ‘carer-friendly communities’ and the the coalition of charities has launched a Carers’ checklist – a list of carers’ priorities – with the hope that it will enable local service providers and businesses to make improvements when dealing with carers.
A motion welcoming Carers Week has been tabled in the Scottish Parliament, and will be discussed on Wednesday 10 June. Northern Ireland Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, also paid tribute to carers, applauding the “great effort and personal sacrifice [they make] to provide vital support” as he launched Carers Week at Stormont.
Blogging for ehospice yesterday, hospice and palliative nurse Sarah Russell called on hospices to be “part of the momentum to help communities turn understanding into action in supporting carers.”
Find out more on the Carers Week website.