Peterborough charity calls on government to ‘fix social care’ during National Carers Week

Age UK Peterborough and Cambridgeshire (AUKCAP) has called on the government to ‘fix social care’ as they mark National Carers Week (June 7-13).

By Ben Jones
Sunday, 13th June 2021, 10:57 am
PA Archive/PA Images

New research suggests that one in three older people (aged 65+) are carers, equivalent to 4.1 million people in the UK.

Just under three quarters of these people are believed not to have had any breaks from their caring role at all, and many of those that did used the time to complete practical tasks, housework or attend medical appointments.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of those caring for others, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

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During Carers week, AUKCAP recognises and gives thanks to carers and is highlighting the campaign to help make caring visible and valued. They are also supporting the national charity, Age UK, in calling upon the Government to meet its pledge to ‘fix social care’ so that carers can get the support and respite they desperately need.

They are calling on the government to set out plans for reforming and refinancing social care in the autumn spending review.

One of the many carers AUKCAP are trying to help in Angela Pearson (71), who cares for her husband David (75). She said: “David had a stroke 19 years ago, he has very poor mobility and only speaks a couple of words. In 2020, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

“He has had a carer three mornings a week to shower him for the last few years. I shower, dress David the rest of the week. I cut his food up and supervise him at mealtimes as he sometimes chokes. I am always thinking of his safety and keeping him safe, he is unable to be left alone for more than an hour or so and requires constant reassurance. He can become agitated quite quickly.

“I have complex health problems myself and become so physically and emotionally tired from caring and supporting his daily life 24/7, but I am unable to fully relax as David will call out for help such as someone at the door, the TV not working, he is unable to get up or a variety of other reasons, so I always have to be listening for him.

“I feel the support available varies greatly depending on where you live. We are classed as rural even though we are only seven miles from the centre of Peterborough on a main road through to Stamford.

“I have received limited support, both financial and practical, despite asking. When I became of pension age my carers allowance stopped but my carer role continued and has increased over the years.”

Melanie Wicklen, Chief Executive, Age UK Cambridgeshire & Peterborough (AUKCAP), added: “Looking after loved ones is an act that so many of us wouldn’t even consider as caring, just a natural step that most would automatically take in a time of need. However, for many hidden carers, often older people themselves, we should take time to recognise the value and commitment they provide, ensuring that care is constant and needs are understood.

“This week whilst celebrating the role of unpaid carers, we should also take time to recognise that carers themselves often have their own health and social care needs, requiring support from the voluntary and statutory sectors.

“Carers should know that help is available to them in their local area and not be afraid to seek this. Something as simple as a chat over a cup of tea can make all the difference.”

“If you would like to continue supporting AUKCAP, please take a look at our BIG KNIT and SLIP INTO SLIPPERS campaigns. Also take a look at our GET INVOLVED page, or contact us by email to [email protected]