Throughout the coronavirus epidemic we’ve seen some amazing stories of people who have helped those most in need.
Carer Caroline Sinfield, who works for The Aldingbourne Trust, played her part in looking after 24 year-old Shannon who has Down’s Syndrome and had contracted coronavirus.
The Trust found an empty holiday let for Shannon and Caroline, wrote up a tenancy agreement and furnished it so Shannon could be looked after by Caroline. Shannon has now recovered from the virus1.
Caroline is one of many people in the UK with caring responsibilities.
According to Carers Week, around 4.5m more Brits are now caring for older, disabled or seriously ill family or friends due to the pandemic. From helping with food shopping, collecting medicine, managing finances and providing reassurance and emotional support during the pandemic, these are some of the responsibilities which have been taken on.
A YouGov poll has also found around two-thirds of people don’t think unpaid carers have been supported by the government during the crisis2.
Maureen Gaudin, co-founder of Tutella, believes carers need more support from the government.
“As a result of the pandemic, many families may have felt overwhelmed and pushed to breaking point.
“Carers need to be prioritised for regular testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly where they care for the most vulnerable.
“There are millions of carers caring round the clock and they may not have the necessary practical support needed. BHSF and Tutella are working together to provide carers with independent information and practical advice.
“Moving out of the pandemic, the government need to rebuild our care system so carers are supported and families have the services they need to live better lives.
“Seeing the Welsh government announce an additional £50,000 funding to support unpaid carers with their mental health is a step in the right direction3.”
Gaudin adds employers also have a part to play in supporting carers for the long-term once the pandemic has eased.
“With one in seven people in the UK now juggling work with caring for someone who’s older, ill or disabled – and our population ageing – carers are a growing reality in our workforce4.
“The number of people giving up work to care has also increased to 2.6m5.
“Building a supportive workplace for all staff including the growing numbers who are, or will become carers – is both good employment practice and good business sense.
“Employers can increase awareness of caring in their organisation by creating processes to help carers. This can include introducing policies and procedures to support carers and signposting them to support and advice.
“To retain the talents and skills of more carers, employers could review job requirements and ensure most jobs are available flexibly. They could also consider offering mid-career ‘MOTs’ that include a focus on managing work and care to ensure carers do not suffer financial hardship.”
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has seen a rise in calls to Tutella and Gaudin said carers have highlighted many concerns on behalf of those who they are caring for.
“We’ve seen a threefold increase in the number of calls received. With a reduction in social care services, carers may be having to provide more care for older, disabled or sick family members. As a result, carers are getting increasingly worried about what could happen if they become ill or have to self-isolate.
“The pandemic has heightened the ongoing feeling of isolation. We’ve been able to advise and support carers with empathy and help those who are feeling scared or lonely. A report from Carers UK found that 70% of carers are now providing more care and feel a greater sense of isolation6.
“Cancer services are being affected and we’ve also had calls from people feeling anxious about those who are being cared for and have cancer.
“Carers have been in touch in need of practical help around sourcing online food shopping, prescriptions and delivery of prepared frozen meals. Just under three-quarters of carers in the UK are spending more on food due to lack of supermarket delivery slots and need for specialist food7.
“The impact of the outbreak on carers has been significant and for many, it’s been a particularly anxious time. However, we’re here to support carers to enable them to look after their wellbeing as well as their loved ones, especially during these uncertain times.”
If you have caring responsibilities and need advice, call today on 0800 622 552 or click here for more information on BHSF Your Care Support.