National Carers Week takes place in June every year – the 2011 dates were 13th-19th June. The event is designed to support the six million people in the UK who provide care at home for elderly and disabled people, and is a partnership of nine national charities, namely Age UK, Carers UK, Counsel & Care, Crossroads Care, Dementia UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
The partnership was formed in 2001; the week having previously been organised by Carers UK (then known as Carers National Association). Since that time the number of events and activities to celebrate people who provide care at home has risen from 200 to more than 5,000, and the number of local partners from 70 to more than 1,200.
Last year, more than 100,000 carers took part in Carers Week. Around 5,000 events and activities were held across the UK, organised by over 1,200 local organisations. Importantly, more than 300 MPs signed up to support Carers Week.
Celebration and support
Providing care at home is a hugely demanding job that brings great responsibility, often without great financial reward. The reality is that carers make a huge impact: not just on the lives of those individuals who they are caring for, but to their families, doctors and other medical professionals and even to the wider community.
National Carers Week raises awareness of these individuals and their valuable work. Furthermore, it is true to say that many “non-professional” carers do not receive the support that they need in order to provide care at home for their loved ones (for example, elderly husbands caring for their wives). National Care Week provides an opportunity to reach out to these carers so that they realise there is somewhere to turn to for help, resources and companionship.
Highlighting professional care
National Carers Week focuses on those who provide care at home for their loved ones and are under significant amounts of stress or pressure as a result. Many individuals who are giving care at home to their loved ones do so because they do not want their spouse, parent or other relative taken into residential care.
One of the benefits of National Carers Week will be to show these individuals their options, and these options are not limited to residential care homes. Indeed, it is expected that the initiative will highlight the benefit of professional care at home as a fine alternative to residential care. This involves professionally trained, dedicated carers delivering compassionate care at home for individuals or elderly couples. The carer either visits the individual during the day or night or lives with them on a full-time basis, depending on what is most appropriate for the individual or couple concerned.
Enlisting the services of a high-quality provider of care at home can help to ease the pressure for those caring for their loved ones; it gives the whole family peace of mind to know that their relative is being well looked after in the comforting and familiar surroundings of their own home.