Unpaid carers speak out ahead of Carers Rights Day

By Jessica Durston - 18 November 2022

CommunityCharity

Local unpaid carers share what they wish they had known before they started caring for someone, ahead of Carers Rights Day 2022.

  • Jo from Melksham

    Jo from Melksham

Carers Rights Day is a national awareness day taking place this year on Thursday 24 November.

It aims to inform unpaid carers of the rights they have.

To help reach unpaid carers across Swindon and Wiltshire, local charity Carer Support Wiltshire are sharing what people wish they had known when they started caring for someone, to help others who may be in similar situations.

The charity started the campaign this month and invited carers online and to their regular support groups to complete the sentence ‘I wish I’d known…’.

The charity said almost one hundred carers have responded so far and it’s hoped many more will get involved on the day itself. Some of their responses included:

  • I wish I’d known that it’s okay to take some ‘me time’ without feeling guilty.
  • I wish I’d known that I was actually a carer and that I could claim carers allowance and NI credits for my pension.
  • I wish I’d known to take videos early when the family visited, particularly with sound. Voices are so unique.
  • I wish I’d known I should get the Power of Attorney signed years before my husband became ill.
  • I wish I’d known that I needed to learn how to use online banking due to the stress of managing two people’s finances.

Leanne Hubbard, interim CEO of Carer Support Wiltshire, says: “Some people find their caring role increases gradually over time and others are plunged into it. For some, their loved one will receive a diagnosis, for example of dementia, and they are left wondering what they should be doing.

"It can be overwhelming to know where to turn. This is where Carer Support Wiltshire can help, and we would always recommend getting in contact for a chat about what support is out there for you if you are providing care to someone.

“Carers Rights Day is an important day which focuses efforts on making sure carers know about the rights they have. If a carer knows their rights, they are better able to ask for what they need and make a complaint if their needs are not being met. As well as communicating these rights to carers, we also wanted to focus on peer-to-peer support through our I Wish I’d Known campaign because those who are caring for someone are the ones who really know what is important to know about.”

Jo from Melksham has three children aged 11-18 years who have additional support needs. She took part in the I Wish I’d Known campaign.

She said: “I wish I’d known sooner that I was a carer and not just a parent. Also that I’d known there was support out there for me.”

Reflecting on her own experience of finding out her rights as a parent carer, Jo added: “Parent carers not only need to navigate the physical and emotional care of their child or children, but also navigate their way through the maze of bureaucracy designed to help support their child through education and into work, which isn’t always straightforward.

“For example, it’s not always easy to know where to start with requesting a needs assessment/EHCP and many don’t know that you can do it yourself and don’t need expensive legal help or even the support of your nursery, school or college. Don’t forget to ask for help if you need it.”

Carer Support Wiltshire is commissioned by Wiltshire Council to provide a number of services to help unpaid carers in the county.

Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Wiltshire Council said: “Our unpaid carers do an amazing job providing care day in day out. They can be so focussed on looking after someone they neglect their own needs and may not be aware of the rights they have as a carer.

“Carers Rights Day is a good opportunity to remind our unpaid carers support is available and to take the next step in accessing that help and advice.”

Carers UK are the national charity behind Carers Right Day, which this year has the theme ‘Caring Costs’. Their annual State of Caring survey, completed by over 12,000 unpaid carers, was published in November.

It shows that many people who provide care to someone take more than a year to identify as an unpaid carer, which can mean not getting the support they need.

Half of all carers (51%) took over a year to recognise their caring role, according to the survey, and over a third (36%) took over three years. Over a third also said that not knowing what services were available was a barrier to accessing support.

Those caring for someone that would like to find out more about their rights as a carer, or those that would like to contribute their own ‘I Wish I’d Known’ to the campaign, can find out more at https://carersupportwiltshire.co.uk/carers-rights-day 

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