This week (6 to 12 June) is Carers Week, the annual awareness campaign to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers, who look after a frail, ill or disabled loved one unpaid, and often unnoticed
One in three people surviving meningitis in the UK suffer a range of varying after-effects. These can last a lifetime and include brain damage, epilepsy and limb loss. The impact changes lives forever.
Our founder, Steve Dayman, meets many carers during his visits to meningitis sufferers and their families around the UK. He says: “Carers don’t get enough recognition for their contribution to families and communities. I meet many people living with after-effects, and the impact is felt by everyone around them. Carers enrich the lives of those who have suffered and I thank them for everything they do.”
At Meningitis Now we offer a range of free services to provide emotional support to carers and sufferers, including counselling, home visits and one-to-one support. As the financial impact can also be huge, we offer grants covering anything from specialist equipment to respite care. Find out more about the support we provide here.
Being a carer can be an around-the-clock job, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be challenging and people don’t often realise the impact it can have on carers’ lives.
For Carers Week this year the Carers Week partnership, the charities and other organisations who organise the week, are focusing on building communities which support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.
New research published for the week, Building Carer Friendly Communities, shows the life chances of many of these 6.5 million carers in the UK are being damaged by inadequate support from local services.
Three-quarters of carers (74%) with some of the most intensive caring responsibilities say their community does not understand or value their caring role, resulting in high numbers of carers struggling to balance other areas of their lives alongside caring.
One carer said: “As a carer attempting to get understanding, advice, support and emergency care from the ‘community’ – such as GP, public transport, social services, dentists, pharmacies and hospitals – it can be very challenging, exhausting and beyond stressful.”
Mixed support from local services means that the majority of carers are facing barriers to maintaining their health, balancing work and care, and balancing education and care, which is having a markedly negatively impact on their life chances:
- Over half of carers (51%) have let a health problem go untreated
- Half of carers (50%) have seen their mental health get worse
- Two thirds of carers (66%) have given up work or reduced their hours to care
- Almost half of carers (47%) have struggled financially
- Almost one third of carers (31%) only get help when it is an emergency
The Carers Week research shows that when carers are supported by their community, they face far fewer barriers to having a life outside of their caring role.