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Don’t make assumptions about the demographics of carers

As Carers Awareness Week approaches (10-16 June), RedArc warns against making any assumptions about the demographics of unpaid carers and thus wrongly targeting support. RedArc supports many male carers and people of all ages and recommends that support provided must be offered and communicated widely to ensure no one misses out.

Assumptions are often made that carers are middle-aged women and are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’. While this group does make up a not insignificant proportion of the caring community, research from the charity Carers UK shows that 41% of carers are men and 59% are younger than 46 or older than 65, so it’s vital that support is made available to everyone and caters for their unique needs.

Caring is often associated with ageing parents but dependants can be of any age, have a range of physical and mental conditions and disabilities which can make the responsibility of caring even more of a challenge. Claiming benefits and allowances, arranging medical appointments, organising social interaction as well as maintaining day-to-day personal care can all be amplified in these cases.

Support required for carers

Carers can benefit from a range of support including practical advice and emotional support to help them look after their own health and wellbeing so that they are better able to deal with all the demands upon them.

They appreciate the opportunity to talk openly to someone outside of their family and friends who understands their particular issues and can also offer more support if needed, such as a course of face-to-face therapy or counselling. Carers also benefit from being given information on local services, self-help groups and relevant charities, as well as help to navigate the NHS, sourcing short-term respite care, help with independent living and, when appropriate, finding long-term care facilities for their loved one.

When an individual has no previous experience of caring, or little knowledge of a particular health condition, they are potentially more in need of these types of support. It is a misjudgement when support is targeted at those they assume could be carers, rather than providing relevant support to everyone.

Caring needs can be almost instantaneous

Some people will be thrust into the role of caring unexpectedly and without much choice in the matter. Not only is this responsibility time-consuming, it can be hugely wearing physically and emotionally, and it can also build feelings of resentment and guilt. It is crucial that carers across all demographics can access support from day one, rather than when they are at breaking point. This support is increasingly included within employee benefits, as well as via insurance products and should be regularly communicated to remind everyone that it is available.

Christine Husbands, commercial director, RedArc said: “Even those who never thought they would become a carer can find they become responsible for others. Therefore, whether caring for a family member, friend or neighbour, it’s so important that all carers are given access to support tailored for them. It would not be wise to assume this role is always played a particular demographic!”

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