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Carers UK used Carers Rights Day to call on the NHS to put policies in place that will identify carers and promote their health and wellbeing.
This comes in the wake of research which found people often don’t see themselves as carers and aren’t identified and as a result miss out on support. Half of carers (52 per cent) surveyed said missing out on support impacted negatively on their finances and (50 per cent) said it had an impact on their physical health.
The charity is using Carers Rights Day to reach as many of the 6.5m carers in the UK as possible with information about their rights and the financial and practical help they are entitled to, which includes benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, respite and access to equipment and technology which can help them in their caring role.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “For many people, looking after an ill, older or disabled loved one doesn’t have a name, it is ‘just something you do’. However, not recognising you are carrying out a caring role can be a barrier to accessing vital support.
“The longer it takes to identify as an unpaid carer, the more likely it is that carers will struggle without the support and advice they need. Frontline professionals, such as GPs, teachers and social workers, play a central role in ensuring carers are identified and then guided to support as early as possible in their caring journey.”
The research ‘Missing Out: the identification challenge’ also revealed that over half of people (54 per cent) took over a year to recognise their caring role, almost one in four (24 per cent) took over five years to identify as a carer, and nearly one in ten (nine per cent) took over 10 years.
Some groups of carers, such as those caring for disabled children or people with mental health conditions, or caring at a distance, take longer than average to identify their role.
Nine in ten of carers said they missed out on financial or practical support (or both) as a result of not identifying as a carer. Three quarters of carers said missing out on support meant they suffered from stress and anxiety
Carers UK is calling for more education, information and training for frontline professionals in order to increase knowledge and signposting of carers.
It also wants improved access to information and advice for carers and a public awareness campaign to improve understanding and recognition of carers
For more information about the financial and practical support available for carers, go to: www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice and follow hashtag #carersrightsday on social media.
A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Carers UK website www.carersuk.org/missingout