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Carers Rights Day: You can be a lifeline

With Carers Rights Day approaching, Emily Holzhausen explains how physiotherapists can support carers.

There are 6.5 million people in the UK who provide unpaid care for a disabled, seriously ill or older family member or friend. Both the number of people providing care and the hours spent caring have increased sharply over the last decade.
 
With the growing demands of an ageing population living longer, often with long-term conditions, and pressure on social care spending, families are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap.
 
As a result carers are telling us that they are finding it harder to look after their own health, maintain relationships with others and have a life of their own alongside caring. This was confirmed last month when the Health and Social Care Information Centre published the findings of their annual carers’ survey in England, which looked at carers’ quality of life and experiences of support services. 
 
The survey revealed that almost two carers in five in England who access local authority support are spending 100 hours or more every week caring for their loved one; while the same number of carers reported they are neglecting themselves or sometimes aren’t able to look after themselves well enough because of their caring roles. These are the realities for carers who get support; the bigger picture for carers who do not get support is of huge concern. 
 
Physiotherapists can be a lifeline for carers. As health professionals who come into frequent contact with people who receive care from a loved one, physiotherapists can teach carers important skills and techniques to help with their loved one’s rehabilitation and recuperation. This in turn can help the patient to recover well, building their confidence and independence.
 
Physiotherapists are also important in identifying carers and signposting them to support with both their caring role and managing their own health. 
 
Important developments in the rights of carers mean it’s never been more important to connect carers with information and advice about what they’re entitled to.
 
Under the Care Act 2014, for the first time, carers in England now have the same rights as the people they care for. Any carer who has a need for support must be offered a carer’s assessment by their local authority. This assessment will look at how caring affects your life, the important physical, mental and emotional needs that you have as a carer, and help to achieve things that are important to you. 
 
New rights for carers are coming in next April in Wales and the Scottish parliament is currently considering new legislation for carers.
 
Every year on Carers Rights Day we bring together local carers, organisations and services to help carers find out about their rights and signpost them to financial and practical help.
 
Carers Rights Day takes place on 20 November. You can find out more about the day, get involved, and order your free carers rights guides here on the Carers Rights website
 
  • Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK
 

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