This Carers Week (8-14 June), Kent County Council is urging residents to appreciate more than ever the efforts of the county’s many thousands of carers.
Research for the charity Carers UK shows that, across the country, an extra 4.5 million people are currently caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the Covid-19 pandemic began. This is in addition to nearly nine million who already did so.
Clair Bell, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “Caring for a relative is quite often a challenging experience and it can sometimes feel isolating and overwhelming, so it is important that carers know how much their efforts are appreciated. Carers Week gives us an opportunity to do just that.
“In previous years we have had events across Kent to mark Carers Week, including information stands, awareness days and coffee mornings. Unfortunately, the Covid lockdown has made it impossible to hold any face-to-face events, which makes it more important than ever that we should try to pay tribute to the carers in our society at this time.”
This year Carers UK is joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness, plus organisations and individuals across the UK, coming together with the aim of “Making Caring Visible”.
Despite the lockdown, it hopes to connect with many of the country’s carers through a number of virtual events, including “Care for a Cuppa” parties which will provide the opportunity for a friendly chat.
Organisations and individuals have been busy adding their virtual activities to the Carers Week website, where you can also pledge your support: www.carersweek.org.
The Carers Network is also hosting a number of virtual events and details can be found here: https://carers-network.org.uk/carers-week-2020-programme/
Clair Bell said: “As our population ages, more and more of us will be called to care for older, seriously ill or disabled loved ones and an ever-growing number of these carers will be children and teenagers.
“While caring can be a rewarding experience, carers may face various health inequalities as a result of their responsibilities, including emotional and mental health problems, so it is vital we make Kent a more supportive place in which carers can thrive.”
KCC and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups recognise it is vital to support carers and jointly invest in services providing practical and emotional support.
This includes short breaks, in which carers’ dependents are looked after to give them time to go to health appointments, reconnect to family and look after their own wellbeing. There are also direct payments to spend on items which make caring easier.