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Dignity for family carers at risk – A study by Which?

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Posted on 24th October 2012.

by Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Helping Hands Advisor

Family carers are the backbone of the social care sector, providing valuable support for the NHS.  There are more than six million family carers up and down the country who often do not even recognise themselves as carers.  Without their involvement and support for practical and personal care millions of people would be unsupported in their day to day lives.

Being able to live life as one wants and having one’s care needs met is fundamental to dignity and respect.  As a dignity champion and a member of the National Dignity Council I feel passionately about empowering people in need of care, as well as their carers.

Having played a key role in the development of the National Carers Strategy and the Dignity Challenge I was delighted to accept an invitation to become an expert advisor to Which? for its project on study of family carers.

The project involved analysis of diaries kept by the family carers and also a survey of Which? members about the challenges and barriers for family carers in fulfilling the role.

There was compelling evidence that family carers do not always get the support needed was compelling, often to the detriment of their own lives.  If this situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency it won’t be long when many of the carers themselves will become recipients of care.

There is work to be done by in raising this issue at the policy level and support the carers to be able to maintain their own dignity at the operational level.

A live-in carer can be a useful asset where family carers are finding the responsibility of caring onerous and impacting on their own family life.

Sally Tomkotowicz