Carers Week: time to take stock

It’s national Carers Week this week, 6-12 June.

With awareness days and weeks for just about everything nowadays, it can be easy to be cynical about them or to question their value.

In my opinion, we should all lay our cynicism aside and take stock this week. With 3 out of 5 adults in Scotland expected to become unpaid carers at some stage in our lives, it’s highly likely that we will find ourselves or someone close to us cast in this role now or in the future - looking after a family member, often 24/7, often with minimal support.

It’ll be of no surprise to anyone who knows about Leuchie House that we believe every carer should have access to regular breaks from their caring responsibilities if they feel they need them.  This view is based on our daily experience of the enormous benefits a break can bring to carers – giving them a much needed rest, improving their health, helping bring balance back to their lives.

The Scottish Government’s recent Health and Care Experience Survey revealed that 35% of carers questioned believed that caring had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.  It also showed there was considerable variation across Scotland in experiences of care services, including awareness of the help, care and support options available.

On the face of it, the political landscape now looks more conducive than ever before to providing the support carers need.

The SNP’s latest manifesto includes a raft of commitments designed to improve the situation of carers, including consideration of how short breaks for carers can be guaranteed.  The Carers Bill will be enacted next year bringing new rights for Scotland’s unpaid carers. As you’d expect, we’ll be working with other carer’s organisations to help ensure all this rhetoric becomes a reality.

In the meantime, this Carer’s Week we’ve got a range of support activities going on at Leuchie House for carers. And on Facebook, we’re running a competition to win a Leuchie break for both a carer and the person they care for. If you’re a carer or know someone who is, you can enter at www.facebook.com/LeuchieHouse.  It could be just the break you need.

(Mairi O'Keefe, CEO, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, 9 June 2016.)