Florence Burke highlights the importance of supporting Scotland's 800,000 carers
Three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives. It’s a stark statistic and the message is clear: if you are not a carer now, there is a good chance you could become one.
During Carers Week (8-15 June) we are highlighting the hundreds of thousands of Scots who undertake caring for a friend, relative or loved one, unpaid. In Scotland there are around 788,000 carers and young carers who provide essential support valued at more than £10billion a year.
This year’s Carers Week theme looks at how we can build carer friendly communities – communities that are aware of the work done by carers, that values them and that remove obstacles to their caring to make carers’ lives that little bit easier.
When a community is carer friendly, every area from hospitals, workplaces and primary schools, to town centres, shops and leisure services, will be geared towards addressing the needs of carers.
This could mean employers offering carer leave so carers don’t have to use up their annual leave when dealing with caring emergencies, or GP practices offering alternative appointment times to carers unable to attend during standard hours, due to their caring responsibilities.
People are rarely ready for the life-changing impact that caring can have – three out of four carers have told us they were not prepared for caringFlorence Burke is Carers Trust Director for Scond
Caring is rarely something you can plan for, but by building more carer friendly communities we can all help to recognise and support the needs of those who are already caring for sick or disabled family or friends.
As our population ages and people live longer, often with complex health conditions, more and more of us will be called upon to care. It is in all of our interests to make sure support is there for carers when they need it.
We also need to listen to carers. Caring can be a fulfilling and positive experience, but caring without enough support can have a negative impact on someone’s health, career, relationships and ability to live a life of their own outside of their caring role.
The human cost of our communities failing to support carers is high. People are rarely ready for the life-changing impact that caring can have – three out of four carers have told us they were not prepared for caring.
But support is available. Working with partner carers centres and young carers services across the country and our online support, Carers Trust Scotland reaches and engages with carers to help them access the support they need, at the time they need it.
This week we are highlighting the fantastic work that carers and practitioners are doing right across Scotland – work that they do all year round, which often goes unnoticed and unremarked upon.
Events are being held in carer centres across the country to celebrate carers and thousands of people have already pledged their support for carers online. Individuals and organisations can join them, get involved and pledge their support to the campaign at www.carersweek.org to help make every community in Scotland a place where every carer is valued.