Carers are missing out on things that most people take for granted.
Recent research suggests that nearly two-thirds of unpaid carers have not been able to take any breaks at all in the last six months because they’re too busy caring for someone else.
And that four in every five carers are currently providing more care than before lockdown, with three quarters saying that the needs of the person they’re caring for have increased recently.
It means carers are missing or overlooking their own health complaints because they’re too busy to go the doctors or to see the issue. Or they’re not working, when they’d like to be, because they haven’t got time beyond their hours of caring. Or they’re missing out on educational opportunities, to develop or enhance their own personal lives.
Billy Hartstein, Head of Carers Services, Devon Carers, a charity that supports carers said:
“Carers are often looking after their husbands, wives or other members of their family, friends or neighbours. They’re putting other people’s needs before their own. They often don’t see themselves as being a carer, and for many it’s a 24 hour a day task, seven days a week, leaving little or no time for a break.
“Having a break from their caring role is vital, and yet the idea of asking for it is sometimes mired with guilt. It shouldn’t be. Accepting help where it’s available is really important.
“After all, carers can’t continue to provide the care their loved ones or friends require if they’re run down, physically and mentally. They need a break.”
So Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG are making grants of between £1,000 and £15,000 available to care providers, personal assistants, and carers themselves who can develop and provide innovative opportunities that will give other carers a break, during COVID-19 and beyond.
“This is as great idea, and the concept is simple,” said Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adults social care and health services.
“Carers feel that they can have a break when the person they’re caring for is otherwise safe, well and where possible engaged or occupied in something that interests them.
“So we’re making sums of money available to people who can provide those break opportunities in ways that work during coronavirus.
“That might be a care provider, or an individual, who can provide a ‘sitting service’ into people’s home, to allow the carer time to leave the house to do whatever they need or want to do.
“It could be a carer or a group of carers coming together to provide a safe space for people who are being cared for, to give their carer a break.
“Or it could be a service, or someone who can provide time to take a cared-for person out for a few hours, to give their carer a break.
“We are deliberately not being prescriptive with this. We know that many services that have traditionally provided breaks for carers have struggled to continue during COVID-19, and that people have understandably been more reluctant to allow people into their homes.
“That’s why we’re looking now for innovation – ideas that will work within the current context.”
Details about the Replacement Care Innovation Fund, including eligibility for it are available on Devon County Council’s website http://devon.cc/rcif. To register your interest in applying for funding, email email@example.com.