This week is Carers Week, when we raise awareness of the under-recognised and under-valued service provided by unpaid carers, all year round. Over six million people across our country, of all ages and backgrounds, spend their time caring for family members, friends and dependents.
My experience of caring for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, has taught me the challenges and stresses of caring for a family member. To demonstrate that we value the work done by unpaid carers, we must make sure we recognise the demands involved and do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for people to continue to care.
This includes ensuring the provision of health, psychological and financial support carers require. The Carers Week 2012 survey, completed by 3,400 carers, shows two in five unpaid carers are sacrificing their own health by putting off their own medical treatment to care for an ill, frail or disabled loved one.
This year’s Carers Week is focussing on the impact of Government cuts to social care budgets on carers’ health and well-being. It is estimated that unpaid carers save the Government £119 billion a year, yet they’re currently being let down in return. It is time for urgent action to tackle the crisis in social care.
However, Carers Week also offers an opportunity to remember how rewarding it can be to care for a loved one and encourage those who are willing to do so to take on this responsibility. Caring is an extremely valuable element of the human economy and its contribution to building a supportive society is immeasurable.
More information about Carers Week can be found on the Carers Week website.