The distress and societal issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the extremely vital role that many essential workers play within our local and national communities. Unpaid carers have often been overlooked, but the last 18 months has highlighted the massive contributions they provide to those they look after, and to the wider society.
Whilst many of us begin to emerge from lockdown, most unpaid carers will continue to stay at home and provide 24-hour care to a friend or loved one. This means unpaid carers relieve a lot of pressure from the NHS, however, many still feel forgotten.
Since the start of the pandemic 4.5 million people have become carers. Every single carer deserves to be recognised for what they do. This recognition can take various different forms, with local and national government support being incredibly important, alongside help from charities and community organisations, but recognition and support from local communities and businesses can also make a huge difference.
There are many ways that recognition can help individual carers, these can include:
Helping them to avoid burnout
Unpaid carers dedicate a significant amount of hours per week to looking after a loved one, this often has to be balanced with paid work, family care and other responsibilities. The demands of this can easily lead to burnout and exhaustion. One way to help with this is by friends and family of carers reaching out with love and listening to their experiences and assisting in resolving any issues the carer may have, including helping with shopping, childcare and other time-consuming tasks. Business can also help by supporting employees who are carers, and providing flexibility such as flexible hours.
Helping carers mental health
A study by Merck found that for 70% of carers, increased demands have meant that caring during the pandemic has negatively affected their emotional and mental health. A factor in the mental health effects of caring can be a lack of recognition, but this can be eased with support and acknowledgment from the local community.
Alleviating their financial pressures
It is in the nature of unpaid care that care providers are often left out of pocket owing to the time spent looking after loved ones. The time spent caring can often limit career opportunities and lead to less time spent in work earning money. Businesses that recognise the importance of supporting carers can offer discounts on their products and services. By being a part of the Carer Friendly Card scheme, businesses can help Carers save over £400 a year.
This year’s Carers Week is all about making caring visible and valued. If you want to learn more about the role of carers, and increase awareness come to one of our Carers Week events. A full list can be found here or you can watch the recorded sessions on our Facebook page.
If you want to become Carer Friendly, find out more on our website.