Thursday, 12 June 2014

1 in 8 adults in Wales are carers... did you know?

Carers Week is a celebration of the contribution the 370,000 unpaid family carers in Wales make to society on a daily basis. They provide hours of personal care, physical and emotional support, help with finances, checking on medication and a whole range of other practical support, which saves the state millions of pounds every year. 100s of local events are being held across Wales throughout the week.

Wales is a caring nation but there are big challenges ahead. A Carers Week/You Gov poll this week found that the majority of adults in Wales vastly underestimate the number of carers there are in Wales (most said 1 in 25 when in fact 1 in 8 of us are carers). The same poll showed that most adults in Wales do not think that they will ever become a carer, when in reality over 60% of us will at some point.

The IPPR Generation Strain report 2014 highlighted recently that many more adult children caring for elderly parents will have to provide more care for longer, carers of working age will increasingly struggle to balance care and more older people themselves will be carers.

All of which highlights the need for carers to be 'Prepared to Care' so that we can all make decisions in a planned and considered way rather than in a crisis.

Caring has always been a mixture of caring 'for' and 'about' someone but carers need to be prepared for the emotional, practical and financial implications caring can have. Unfortunately the Carers Week/You Gov poll also found that over half of current carers in Wales say that they do not receive enough support to do the role well. Carers’ biggest worries were money matters, the emotional strain of caring and not having the right skills for their role. They also said that the most important thing for them would be to know exactly what help is available right from the start.

Health and Local Authorities have a huge role to play, of course, but the third sector also plays a big part in supporting carers across Wales. Organisations such as Carers Wales, Carers Trust, MS Society, Macmillan, Marie Curie, Parkinsons UK, Stroke Association, Age Cymru, Alzheimer’s Society, Care & Repair Cymru and others all provide vital services to carers.

We all have two years to plan for the implementation of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, which will bring major changes to social care in Wales, and the third sector will be keen to contribute fully. Although fundamental questions still remain about how, as a society, we invest in social care to meet the needs of carers and those they care for.

Keith Bowen
Carers Wales

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