For National Carers Week, Picker’s Lorraine Pullen ponders what defines a Carer, the importance of their roles and responsibilities, and how their services support our Health and Social Care sector.
As we enter National Carers Week, it made me think about what the definition of a Carer is, why some people choose to become carers, and why, and how, some people fall into becoming a Carer.
Fundamentally, it depends on your definition of a Carer. Just because we do or don’t care for someone, doesn’t necessarily make us Carers, or indeed uncaring. Aren’t we all carers in some capacity? Surely, we all care for someone or several people. These questions drove me to conduct some desk research into understanding the definition of a Carer, and what is the role of a Carer.
“A carer is anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.”
“You’re probably a carer if all the following apply:
you do things like helping someone to wash, dress and eat, taking them to regular appointments, doing their shopping or keeping them company.
you aren’t paid to look after the person you’re caring for.
you spend a lot of time caring for the person – there’s no legal definition of this, but it could mean anything from a few hours a day, to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
you may or may not live with the person you’re caring for.”
To my mind, the term “carer” has become interchangeable to mean both someone (unpaid) who cares for a family member or friend, which in previous generations would have lived under one roof or down the road, as well as for Support Care Workers who are paid and work for either the NHS or a health and social care provider. Both are important and vital roles, regardless of whether you are paid, or unpaid, young, older, or caring for someone in the short or long term.
My own experiences of being a Carer were not planned or unusual and will remain with me, as part of my life, for many years to come. I was not, or would not, expect to be paid. It is what you do when people you care for, require being cared for.
We only need to listen to other people’s experiences from all around us to know there are many Carers across the world that are unknown, underappreciated, or undervalued. There is a massive misunderstanding of the role of a Carer. According to the NHS England website, results from the 2011 Census that covered England and Wales, around 5.4 million people in England provided unpaid care for a friend or family member. A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or addiction and cannot cope.
It is also recognised by NHS England that Carers make a major contribution to society. Estimates show that the care provided by friends and family members to ill, frail, or disabled relatives is equivalent to £119 billion every year.
My experience isn’t unusual, there are millions of people across the UK who care for and are cared by Carers every day. During National Carers Week, it’s important to embrace all Carers and recognise the importance of their roles and responsibilities, and how their services support our Health and Social Care sector, every day.
I am proud to have joined a company, where caring and providing the highest quality person centred care for all, always is their vision. Every person who works at Picker strives every single day to make a difference, working with policymakers, healthcare providers and practitioners, and the public to understand and measure people’s experiences of care – and to ensure that these experiences are valued by all, always.
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