Thursday 25 November is Carers Rights Day, a day held each year with the aim of ensuring carers are aware of their rights, letting carers know where to get help and support and raising awareness of the needs of carers, and the need to ensure they are properly supported.
At Caring Together we provide information and advice, run services in our local communities and campaign so that carers have choices.
A key piece of our work is to raise awareness of carers and the role they play. If carers are identified they can be supported. It is not necessarily that those of us who look after a family member or friend are ‘hidden’, as much as people not realising what a carer is or what they do.
Some of the ways we raise awareness and understanding are:
- Carer voice activities
- Work to improve support for carers
- Delivering awareness raising sessions and the Carer Friendly Tick Award
- Campaigning through the media
We are seeing more and more people recognising the importance of recognising and supporting carers. The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals have been awarded the Carer Friendly Tick Award (Health) for their work with carers.
Ruby Allen, Patient Engagement and Experience Facilitator, said, “At the NNUH, we are committed to identifying and supporting carers, as we value the support they give our patients.
“Ensuring carers are supported in their caring role improves the experience of care within our hospital for carers and our patients alike.
“We have a Carers policy, and implemented a Carers Passport to provide support.
“We are always working to improve our support for carers, and we have a Carers Forum that enables us to work collaboratively to identify how else we can consistently identify and support carers.”
Read below for more information on how we work to raise awareness and increase support available to carers.
Carer voice activities
Carers really are the experts when it comes to issues affecting them and those they care for. It is essential carers influence our work and the work of other organisations. We are committed to learning from the experiences and insight of former carers too.
Our work to involve carer’s voices includes involving carers in:
- Design, delivery and evaluation of services – not only our services but those of other organisations.
- Carer awareness – this includes carers talking about their experiences as part of our awareness work and in the media.
- Organisational governance – so decisions made throughout Caring Together are based on what carers need.
- Workforce recruitment and development – ensuring carers play a key role in shaping our workforce (both employees and volunteers).
See more at caringtogether.org/caring-together-forum
Working to improve support for carers
We work at a local and national level to influence what support carers have available. We speak to local MPs about issues affecting carers and arranged for MPs to meet carers so carers can share their experiences and views first-hand.
We talk to local providers of services relevant to carers and work to give carers the opportunity to give their opinions directly.
At the end of September, we held a national young carers research and practice forum. This was attended by more than 70 people – academics whose research areas include young carers and staff from young carers organisations. As well as hearing from academics and young carer organisations about some of the latest issues facing young carers, this forum gave the opportunity for researchers and practitioners to discuss next steps in taking action to bring about change for young carers and their families.
We aim to create ongoing collaborations and partnerships to join research and practice to improve the lives of young carers and their families.
Awareness sessions and Carer Friendly Tick Award
We raise awareness of carers in the community, particularly with health, social care and education professionals, and employers by delivering awareness raising sessions. This includes sessions in schools, workplaces, and hospitals – so more people are aware of the important role carers play. These sessions can include carers talking first-hand about their experiences, and use resources that we have produced specifically for schools such as an animation and resource pack about young carers for use in primary schools.
Our Carer Friendly Tick Award recognises organisations who identify and support carers, including young carers. We can work with you on the accreditation process, including by providing awareness-raising sessions, resources, and examples of what similar organisations have done. There are also toolkits available for each of the four categories of education, community groups, employers and health organisations which can help you with your application.
Campaigning through the media
The media are starting to have an increased awareness of the issues faced by carers. We have seen newspaper, radio and television coverage given to issues affecting carers including publicising the results of surveys we have done on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on carers.
We have given carers the opportunity to talk of their experiences in the media and this has a powerful impact on raising the understanding of what it is to be a carer. We are grateful to a range of people in the media for the work they have done to report on the situations faced by carers and make more people aware of the lives of carers, issues affecting them and how the right support can make a big difference to carers.
Are you a carer who wants to be involved in raising awareness?
Please go to caringtogether.org/carer_voice_involvement/carer-voice-sign-up and give your details and we will get in touch to discuss how you can get involved.