Respite breaks are to be offered to carers in a new initiative launched by Saga – the leisure and financial services group for the over 50s.
The new Saga Respite for Carers Trust will cover the cost of well-earned holidays for people who care selflessly for their loved ones, and will ensure continuity of care. Holidays will include river and ocean cruises, UK and European breaks and more exotic locations further afield. Saga will also provide spending money and travel insurance where required.
Many hundreds of thousands of people devote their lives to caring for a disabled child, a partner or an elderly relative and too often their efforts go unpaid and unrecognised. Too often they soldier on without proper breaks or holidays. Today the government has recognised that with its announcement of 150 million over two years to fund planned respite breaks.
Saga Magazine readers and respondents to the Saga Populus Panel have expressed deep anxieties over care issues – one of the most important issues facing today’s over 50s.
The latest Saga Populus poll highlighted that a significant number of carers are left out of pocket, two-thirds receive no financial support and almost a quarter (24 per cent) have never taken a holiday away from their caring responsibilities. That figure rises to 31 percent among those who have been carers for longer than 10 years. But the savings to the country and taxpayers in general are enormous.
The Saga poll identifies the impact of having less personal time and space – 37 per cent of carers chose this as the biggest impact they faced – and the effect of such responsibilities on carers' health – more than a third (35 per cent) said they suffered from anxiety and 3 in 5 (61 per cent) felt stressed or suffered from tension.
European Union directives say that UK workers must work no more than a 48 hour week and have 20 days a year holiday over and above weekends and bank holidays. Carers, who are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every week of the year have very little help or respite from the relentless task they perform so selflessly.
Andrew Goodsell, Group Chief Executive, Saga Group said:
"Saga has campaigned loudly and vigorously for carers to have a right to take a well-earned break and we welcome the government's announcement on additional funding for respite breaks as a first step in providing proper support to improve carers' lives.
"We believe that the Saga Respite for Carers Trust will play a part in demonstrating the benefits of re-charging carers' batteries."
Joan Bakewell, the legendary broadcaster and social commentator said: "I am delighted to support Saga's campaign. Some four million people over fifty care for a relative or partner, and many simply never get a break.
"Unpaid carers are too often the forgotten people in our society. They carry out vital but thankless roles. As a country we need to celebrate and express our gratitude for their commitment. Ensuring all carers can have a break each year is a small reward for such devotion."
Actor Tony Robinson – an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society said: "I know from campaigning with the Alzheimer's Society on behalf of carers of people with dementia that carers are the unsung heros of our society.
"It should be the right of every carer to take a break. They should have the chance to recharge their batteries safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are getting the best possible care while they are away. As a society we should be asking the question: 'Who cares for the carers?' I am pleased to support Saga's efforts to provide one of the answers."
Notes to Editors-
Saga applied to the Charity Commission in March 2008 to register the Saga Respite for Carers Charitable Trust. Saga Group have donated 200,000 in cash to the Trust and will also cover the cost of the Trust administrator and other promotional and lobbying costs.
Key criteria for nomination
* People will be able to nominate themselves or be nominated by others.
* The carer must be aged over 50 (although the person they look after can be any age).
* The carer should have been caring for someone for over 12 months.
* The carer should not have taken a holiday away from their caring responsibilities within the last year.
Nominations can be made on line at saga.co.uk/health/carers
Alternatively nomination forms can be obtained by writing to Saga Respite for Carers Trust, The Saga Building, Enbrook Park, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3SE.
The Saga Populus Panel is the largest monthly poll of over 50s opinion and received over 9,000 responses to its May 2008 poll about caring. A summary of the results are available from the press office
For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.