During the election campaigns, most political parties recognised the huge contribution made by the UK’s army of 6million Carers, but few really know what it’s like to walk in a carers shoes for a day. Saga is challenging Politicians of all parties to spend time with local carers to get a true appreciation of the mental and physical strain that they face on a daily basis.
The main Carers’ allowance is £53.10 per week, which equates to just £1.52 per hour for a standard 35 hour week, although many of the 6 million carers throughout the UK work well in excess of a 50 hour week!
Whilst funding is identified as a key concern for carers one of their biggest issues is the fact that almost a quarter (24 per cent) have never taken a holiday away from their caring responsibilities. This figure rises to 31 percent among those who have been carers for longer than 10 years. Despite the previous government’s commitment to provide funding for respite breaks, their failure to ring fence it has meant that in many of the Primary Care Trusts the funds are just not getting to carers.
Emma Soames, Trustee of the Saga Respite for Carers Trust, comments
“Carers Week is a wonderful opportunity for Carers to stand proud and be counted for their massive contribution to society. All political parties were quick to verbally recognise their contribution, which saves the UK coffers billions every year, but few have ever provided 24 hour care with no help or support.
Whilst we would like to see politicians volunteer to provide home care for a day this is unlikely to be practicable, we are therefore urging politicians throughout the UK to spend some time with local carers so they can truly understand the impact the changes they propose would have and the real need for carers to take some ‘time out’.”
The Saga Respite Carers Trust is doing what government should do – provide respite breaks for long-term unpaid carers. Nominations and stories sent to the Saga Respite for Carers Trust paints a very stark picture of the lives of carers, one that shows that many are reaching the end of their tether, their own health affected by the constant stress and demands of looking after a chronically ill or disabled loved one.
Emma continues: “Many of the carers who have had a proper break courtesy of the Trust genuinely feared that they may have to put their loved one into care in the long-term. They have been astounded by the positive effects a proper holiday has had on both their physical and mental well-being. Many feel that it has given them the drive and enthusiasm to continue to provide care in the home.”
To date the LibCon coalition have failed to implement changes to support carers, choosing instead to further delay the process, implementing yet another review. That said, both the Tories and the Lib Dems proposals on the run up to the election were promising, with Tories proposing to extend direct payments to help people take control of their care needs and improved access to respite care. Lib Dems however appeared to have the most carer friendly proposal that would look to offer a week's respite break for the estimated on million carers who spend more than 50 hours a week providing care.
Nominations can be made on line at saga.co.uk/health/carers. The deadline for nominations to the trust is 31st August 2010. Terms apply.
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.
According to the most recent Census Data (2001) There are in the region of 6 million Carers in the UK split demographically as follows:
East of England 520,209
East Midlands 435,741
North East 276,593
North West 724,802
Northern Ireland 185,066
South East 737,751
South West 495,442
West Midlands 558,421
Yorkshire & The Humber 518,211