Parliamentary sketch – Care to be a Carer?
Around 7,000 people provide voluntary care for a family member, neighbour or friend on a regular – at least daily – basis across the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives.
This week is “Carers Week” (9th-15th June). I met Carers UK, Independent Age and an array of national charities from Multiple Sclerosis Society, Parkinson’s UK to the Stroke Association to promote the work that carers do and to celebrate their contribution to our society. I have also met carers at their homes and in groups, and have done some caring myself in my time.
If our voluntary carers downed tools, walked off the job, handed their cards in and passed their responsibilities to the Government it would probably bankrupt the country.
But of course, carers do what they do not for financial reward but because they care. We don’t walk away from our responsibilities. Of course families have their fallouts and tensions. But it’s our care for each other and that underlying affection which cements the caring role.
But successive Governments are keen to either keep the chronically sick and disabled out of hospital altogether or to at least discharge them earlier to their homes. However, they haven’t always been as keen to make sure that carers are given all the support they deserve.
Carers rarely if ever have the opportunity to get together as the ‘Army’ they are to intimidate the political classes with their strength of numbers, but remain in isolation and relatively voiceless.
That’s why I want to use this, Carers Week, to encourage carers to seek help. To ask about money. To ask about assistance, with respite care, to ask about flexible working and to make sure that they get the help they need.
The recent Care Act brought in new provisions to entitle carers to an assessment if they provide substantial and regular care for someone with an illness, disability or who is frail.
Carer’s Assessments are a way of identifying the needs of a carer. You should contact Cornwall Council and ask for an assessment. This will give you an opportunity to seek advice about the support you need and may be entitled to but are not getting.
As many know, I am campaigning against the “race to the bottom” for salaried (but usually on the minimum wage!) home care workers, employed by agencies who, in turn, are put under pressure to cut costs. They also provide essential support for many carers and deserve a better deal.
The UK army of 6.5 million unsung heroes who provide voluntary care deserve our thanks this week. We should give them the recognition and support they deserve.
You can contact Andrew George by email: email@example.com. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
10th June 2014