2:45pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in Letters
RE: Unpaid carers filling gap in health and social care.
OVER the last few weeks much has been written about the role of ‘carers’ - those who provide care in a paid capacity ‘care support workers’ and those who care unpaid for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support ‘carers’.
There is a clear difference between these two types of roles and Crossroads Mid and West Wales, a Carers Trust Network Partner, supporting unpaid carers, feels it is very important to make that distinction.
Crossroads is the pre-eminent provider of practical support to carers through professionally trained and paid ‘care support workers’ in the county, but it is the unpaid carers upon whom the health and social services rely greatest.
The 2011 Census reported 15,195 in Pembrokeshire providing unpaid care to a family member, neighbour or friend in need.
Unpaid carers save the UK economy in excess of £119bn every year and often bridge a gap that health and social care departments cannot fill because of staffing and financial constraints.
Every day unpaid carers provide help and support to people the state is unable to provide, keeping people out of our very busy hospitals, out of care homes and as far as is possible helping to maintain their independence in their own home.
But there is a price to be paid for this, and it is too often the unpaid carer who pays it with in many cases severe financial consequences and an impact on their own health and wellbeing.
Recent features in the national press and on TV about, for example, 15 minute calls and zero hours contracts are only a symptom of the real underlying problems.
Whilst they highlight the fact paid for care providers, including ourselves, provide paid care in order to give unpaid carers a break, the systems are struggling to cope with delivering care to the volume of people who require help and support.
The stories do not address the underlying issue of a system which cannot cope and is becoming increasingly dependent on the UK’s seven million unpaid carers.
Without unpaid carers the system would simply not be able to copy and they need support.
ROGER GANT Chief executive Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales