It is an incredibly selfless and wonderful act to give your time and effort to care for a loved one or relative who has a chronic condition, disability, illness or who is elderly. In a perfect world, unpaid carers would be universally heralded by everyone in our society, but unfortunately despite additional recognition of their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is often still a stigma attached to what they do. This stigma can manifest itself in many different ways, but those within a carers community can help to reduce this by recognising what a carer does and supporting them in any way possible.
Below is an overview of some of the difficulties faced by carers and how neighbours, local businesses and others in their local communities can help to reduce these challenges:
Carers often dedicate a significant amount of their time to looking after their loved ones, meaning that any leisure time is limited, and socialising can be difficult. This can often mean that carers feel socially isolated and even excluded.
You can help a carer with their feeling of social isolation by reaching out to them. For friends, this can mean checking in and ensuring that your friend is included in your plans wherever possible. Organisations and businesses can help by organising social events that prioritise unpaid carers.
Mental health struggles
Unpaid carers often have to deal with long hours, loneliness, stresses from caring and balancing care with a career, often with a lack of support. This combination leads to extreme pressure, which can manifest in various mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression.
Carers often find it hard to discuss the challenges that come with caring and this can exacerbate any mental health problems that they are dealing with. Having an open and honest conversation with a carer can really help them. Giving people a safe space to talk and listening to what they have to say is incredibly useful and can be extremely beneficial to their mental health, as can providing information about organisations who specifically help with carers mental health.
Unfortunately, unpaid carers are often financially disadvantaged because they may have limited career opportunities, where caring means they are less able to spend time doing paid work.
Business can help towards easing a carers financial pressures in two ways. As employers they can implement flexible working policies, or take the time to recognise carers in their workforce who may require extra support to enable them to continue working. Business can also support their caring customers by participating in the Carer Friendly Card scheme. Businesses that provide a discount or offer to carers are not only helping with financials, but also demonstrating that they are a Carer Friendly environment.
If you’re an unpaid carer looking for support from your local community, make sure to look at the Carer Friendly Card. Not only can it provide you with over £400 worth of savings each year, but it will help you to connect with businesses and organisations wanting to recognise and support you. Get your card here: https://bit.ly/3aqblVC