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Staying well is not always easy - campaign highlights vital needs of older carers

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Carers strategy

Winter is well and truly with us now and with it comes the annual NHS campaign to ‘Stay well this winter’. It’s no surprise that older people – including carers (typically 65 and older) – are a significant target audience, which is why the Carers Trust have launched an awareness raising campaign called ‘Speak up for older carers’.  We invited Louise Marks, Dementia Policy & Development Officer for the charity to tell us more…

Louise Marks: 'Looking after the health of [older] carers is vital... we need to do far more to prevent this vital group of people experiencing poor health.'
Louise Marks: 'Looking after the health of [older] carers is vital... we need to do far more to prevent this important group of people experiencing poor health.'
We all know how important it is to look after our health, by eating well, exercising regularly and getting good quality sleep. If we feel we are becoming unwell we are urged to seek support early from the pharmacists and rest. If we continue to feel unwell, we are advised to go to the GP.

This advice is excellent. However for the vital, sometimes vulnerable group of older carers in our society, it is far from easy to follow. Many carers, especially those caring for someone with dementia, will have repeated disturbed nights and have little, if any, time to prepare healthy meals, exercise or relax. A new survey by Carers Trust reveals that half of the carers polled care for over 50 hours a week or 24/7.

Our survey also reveals that 85 percent of carers over 60 have at least one health problem themselves, with 67 percent directly attributing this to their caring role. Astonishingly, over 50 percent reported three or more health issues.

speakupforoldercarers_logoThe Stay Well campaign along with many other recent health campaigns encourages us to take preventative measures to reduce our risk of poor health. In the same Carers Trust survey over half - 57 percent of carers - said they had postponed or cancelled treatment for their own health problems due to their caring role. One of the main reasons cited for this was the lack of appropriate replacement care.

Looking after the health of our nation’s carers is vital. They are increasingly filling the funding gap in social care. If they are unable to be supported in their own wellbeing, then the health of those they care for may also be compromised. The knock on effects of this are likely to be increased costs for health and social care services, using up time and money better spent on prevention. Prevention we are told is better than cure, but it seems we need to do far more to prevent this important group of people experiencing poor health.

dorisanderic_bannerThe introduction of flexible or priority appointments, GPs proactively inviting carers for health checks and good quality replacement care services, could go some way to helping carers take better care of themselves, preventing their own long-term illness in the future.

That’s why we're campaigning to raise awareness of issues affecting older carers in England. One action we encourage is to ask your local health service to identify carers at the free NHS Health Check.

In the meantime, visit our main campaign page to find out what else can be done – as individuals and organisations – to raise awareness of the needs of older carers. They need us as much as we need them!

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  1. Comment by Dan Midwinter posted on

    It is great to see the plight of older carers being highlighted here.

    I am sure all of us have loved ones who are affected by this issue and caring for someone will always add an extra strain on a persons health in these circumstances.

    More support certainly won't hurt!

    Dan Midwinter

  2. Comment by Chris Shoukry posted on

    why can't we start a remote diagnostic service such as the one being introduced in Scotland - this won't help all carers especially older ones but it could take some pressure off.

  3. Comment by michael whitty posted on

    As the Chaiman of a Local Action Team constituted by the Brighton and Hove local government we have started a camppaign to identify the aged, lonely and vulnerable people in our community. There are numerous groups, voluntary, charitable or local authority backed organisations ready to help vulnerable people but they are not joined up and I hope our group named North Brighton Community Network(NBCN) will be able to identify the people and bring the appropriate group to help them.
    Michael Whitty
    Chairman NBCN.

    • Replies to michael whitty>

      Comment by Louise marks posted on

      Hello it is great to hear carers being included in people who can feel lonely and isolated they are often overlooked as they are usually with someone for most if not all of the day, but are isolated as they cannot get out together or on their own. Some carers are also caring for people with profound disabilities and progressed dementia and have very little conversation or stimulation throughout the day. It is vital we identify these carers early and offer support

  4. Comment by Guy Patterson posted on

    If more councils supported initiatives like the NBCN we would be able to develop a national programme that could, one imagines, have a profound effect on policy makers - until then it is left to what are essentially 'single ticket' national charities to make the running, which means that the messages are built in to their corporate strategies. These may translate into local campaigns and action but are in danger of becoming repetitive and predictable. I do think the campaign to end loneliness is worth supporting, but i know that it is in mobilising people at a neighbourhood level that we see the most concrete results. A network such as Michael Witty describes is a powerful voice amid the noise!

  5. Comment by Susan Hardman posted on

    Older people around the world set standards for us all to aspire to, we should all maintain these standards and support our older people with what ever they need, not what bureaucrats think they need. One day we will be Older People, if we do not keep up these standards how can we expect our younger people too.

  6. Comment by Pearl Baker posted on

    Because I exposed neglect by a LA taken up by the Guardian Newspaper I have been subjected to intimidation by the same LA for years, and not accepted as a Carer, which I clearly am. I actually care for three family members. I have proved we don't need the likes of Social Services at all.