Carers make very important contributions towards the health and security of those who are in need. However, their roles are often undervalued and, at times, ignored. Along with the persons for whom they care, they can suffer from personal hardship, social inequality and professional neglect.
It is generally recognised that many carers who have had no formal training deliver a great deal of indispensable, unpaid assistance. In doing so, they save vast sums of money for hard-pressed local authorities and the National Health Service. Some of them have personal, financial or employment anxieties which are exacerbated by the time and efforts required to acquire high-quality guidance and help. Others are still in their teenage years (or even younger!) and miss out on aspects of the educational and leisure pursuits which their peers experience.
In everyday matters, caregivers provide a very wide range of provision for the most vulnerable including:
- organising social activities
- monitoring nutrition and physical exercise
- cooperating with professional home services
- preventing unnecessary hospitalisation, and
- assisting with planning for the future.
Within their localities and in the wider community, they campaign openly for the establishment of disabled-empowering and dementia-friendly communities. Additionally, they promote public awareness in various ways, for instance by contributing to school projects on understanding the nature of disability and of how to address related concerns.
But, just as modern society with its ageing population needs caregivers, urgent reciprocated backing is essential. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for them to experience a lack of crucial information (or perhaps, misinformation) about access to welfare opportunities, the availability of financial benefits and use of respite care. Attention must be given to ensuring that the ‘power’ of service providers over carers is not mismanaged or abused.
In short, caregivers deserve to be offered much better and more appropriate support. Considerably greater resources ought to be allocated to enhance their health, wellbeing and applied skills. If relevant forms of collaboration are lacking, then not only the quality of their lives but also the routines of those in receipt of community care will suffer. In turn, such outcomes are likely to lead to even more bed-blocking in hospitals, greater demands on residential placements and significant pressure on the national purse.