Today’s report about the pressures on unpaid carers presents yet again the huge pressures on carers to underpin the social care system in this country. Unpaid carers need support; they need respite and they need recognition of their own health needs. Often in the day-to-day management of life of the person they care for, their own care needs get overlooked. Without unpaid carers’ huge contribution to supporting our most vulnerable people in society, the social care system could not cope. We need to ensure that carers are supported as they are the backbone of our social care system.
Paid carers can also be vulnerable, with unpaid travel time between clients, low pay and little recognition. Yet these people work with some of the most frail and vulnerable people in society. Often time to care is minimal and the costs of care are tightly controlled so that only the basics are provided. For some older people, their carers may be some of the only outside contact they have with life outside of their homes, yet time for care is rationed.
Everyone recognises times are tough, budgets are small, every penny is squeezed, but isn’t the lack of recognition for both paid carers and unpaid carers shortsighted? Recognition in the short term will mean a better and less crisis-ridden care system in the long term. Giving our carers the time they need to care and to continue caring must be a priority.