MP’s have told the BBC that the government must give more money to help Britain’s millions of unpaid carers.
Carers say the current £50.55 a week allowance is “insultingly low”. But ministers say they are working to give carers more “balance”.
The Commons work and pensions committee have said more state help was of “critical importance” and the current system was “outdated”.
The MPs said they were disappointed the government had not addressed financial help for carers directly in its Carers Strategy, and that the group was a long-term priority only from 2011.
The committee’s chairman, told the BBC: ‘The average, if there is such a thing, carer is aged between 35 and 55. That’s normally a prime earning period for people, so they lose out in terms of employment opportunity, earnings, future pensions.’
Anne McGuire, minister for disabled people, said she welcomed the report as a “valuable contribution to the debate” and said the government was working with employers to help carers get a better balance between their work and caring responsibilities.
Ms McGuire added that the government had already provided extra resources to allow carers to take short breaks.
Ms Morgan had noticed her mother’s confidence gradually deteriorate.
‘My mum was always a very young, active woman – she was only 18 years older than me but when I came back to visit, she was a changed woman. She had become very withdrawn and one day when we went shopping she had a panic attack and had to go home. It was the last time she would go out shopping in Swansea.’
‘She eventually told me that every time she coughed or sneezed she would leak.’
Ms Kendall, who died five years ago aged 58, had surgery known as a tension vaginal tape operation to resolve the problem.
Although initially it was successful, a year later the stress incontinence came back and her confidence deteriorated and was eventually prescribed antidepressants.
When Ms Kendall’s GP told her that nothing could be done, her daughter decided to research stress incontinence products.
Ms Morgan said: ‘we tried various things but with no success. My mother said she had noticed that she didn’t suffer these leaks when using a tampon and so I said we would have to make something.’
IncoStress is a latex-free device which is inserted into the vagina and supports the urethra in its natural position. The device also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, after six months Ms Kendall’s stress incontinence had disappeared.
Ms Morgan said: ‘IncoStress gives women total freedom and choice about what they want to do with their bodies.’
A Castlebar councillor has shown his concern over people who are entitled to receive half rate carer’s allowance not getting it. This tends to be because they either don’t know about it or have not been given it.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said for some time now people who are in receipt of a social welfare payment, who are also providing full-time care for a relative may be entitled to receive an additional payment of up to €107 per week.
The councillor says many people are unaware of this and are providing full-time care and attention to elderly relatives and are doing a great service to the state.
Kilcoyne said they are saving hundreds of euros per week by people minding sick relatives at home and at the same time the Department of Social and Family Affairs is doing little to make them aware of their entitlement.
The respite care allowance is not means tested and is an important payment which the Department could do a whole lot more to promote, explained the councillor.
‘These people provide an extremely valuable service to the state at a time when there is great difficulty in getting into hospital or long-term care. Many people provide full-time care to needy relatives and they should avail of this payment.’
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles inside the pelvis that forms a floor in the body. They surround the urethra, vagina and rectum and should, along with the sphincter muscles, maintain control over these openings.
If the pelvic floor muscles are weak the urethra can fall during exertion, resulting in leaking.
To strengthen the pelvic floor it is important to do appropriate exercises, which are especially good for stress incontinence and can reduce the effects of this condition considerably.
Pelvic floor exercises can be done pretty much anytime or anywhere. Once you have learnt to tighten your pelvic floor muscles, you can squeeze them and hold when you sneeze, lift or jump to prevent leakage.
It is important to do pelvic floor exercises for a few months before any improvement can be noticed.
In order to find your pelvic floor muscles try interrupting the flow when you urinate and feel which muscles you are using to do this.
The right contraction of the pelvic floor muscles feels like a small lift under the pelvis up into the body. There should be no accompanying movement of other parts of the body, e.g. the buttocks, stomach or the inner thighs.
If you have a problem identifying the correct muscles or if you are not sure that you are training correctly contact your doctor or physiotherapist.
For examples of pelvic floor exercises please click here.
Two care assistants from N. Ireland have shared with the BBC, their bad experience with the standard of incontinence care in old people’s homes.
They claim that elderly people are left in soiled incontinence pads and infections are spread easily by poor hygiene and shortages of basic equipment.
Both ladies said some staff they have worked with ignored the need to change used incontinence pads.
The first carer said: ‘I have gone into a home where residents have sat in the same pad and diarrhoea perhaps has been spilling out over the top of that incontinence pad and it has been very obvious to me that no-one has thought to changing that person’s incontinent pad so he or she could have sat there for seven, eight or nine hours…. they’re bound to have sores on their bottoms and I have noticed this as well.’
The other care worker told the BBC of an experiment she carried out: ‘I was in a nursing home and I was putting the man to bed and his pad was very, very wet and I thought that pad hasn’t been changed in a long time, so, the pad I put on him in the morning, I put an X on it.’
‘When I was putting him to bed the next night that pad was the same pad I’d put on in the morning.’
Both care assistants said poor hygiene is commonplace, sometimes due to a lack of cleaning but just as often due to a shortage of supplies.
Both women said infections like MRSA and C. difficile were also common in these homes.
In as little as 10 minutes, two balloons implanted into the bladder may be a new solution for stress incontinence.
Research shows 7 out of 10 women with stress incontinence were helped by this therapy.
After 6 months, nearly 70% of the women implanted with the devices, were dry with no leakages.
Stress incontinence occurs as a result of weakened pelvic floor muscles. Most common causes include childbearing, which puts pressure on these muscles and the menopause.
This new incontinence treatment focuses on boosting the urethra sphincter muscles that control the flow of urine.
When these muscles are weak and receive extra pressure it can cause urine to leak out.
The new technique, called adjustable-continence therapy, reinforces these muscles with two balloons, made from a synthetic material, to prevent unwanted leakage.
The balloons are implanted, while deflated, under local anaesthetic. During the short procedure, they are surgically placed under the skin next to the bladder.
Each of the devices has tubing that allows them to be filled with liquid once in place.
The balloons effectively push the bladder neck up and make it smaller, so that the muscles have less work to do keeping it closed.
The device can last for up to 10 years, but can be removed easily if the treatment is not successful.
Research has shown that the double balloon treatment can be very effective.
- In a recent poll it was suggested that there are over 100,000 young carers in Scotland – young people under the age of 18 who might be helping to look after a parent with physical or mental health problems, or who may be caring for a brother and sister with learning disabilities.
- Of 100,000 young carers in Scotland, only 3000 receive support from the 50 young carers projects that currently exist.
- The Scottish Executive’s Care 21 report found that 21% of young carers spend between 30 and 39 hours caring every week.
- The average age of a young carer is 12 and 10% of secondary school children are carers.
- Current estimates indicate that some 40-60,000 children in Scotland may have a drug using parent and up to 100,000 are affected by parental alcohol misuse.
- Carers of all ages throughout Scotland save the Scottish Government £7.68 billion every year.
Quite shocking really when you consider these children should be in full time education and hanging out with their friends. And this is a definate reminder that more needs to be done to help carers.
Although bowel and bladder weakness becomes more common as we get older, it is not an inevitable part of ageing. Because bladder weakness is not a distinct disease, it is often difficult to determine a definite cause.
- Weakened Pelvic Floor Muscles – The bladder and outlet passage are supported and held in place by a sling of muscles called pelvic floor muscles that keep the bladder closed. If these muscles lose their strength and/or flexibility then even everyday activities such as coughing may cause leaking.
Being overweight can also put an added strain onto pelvic floor muscles.
- Birth Defect – You may have been born with a defective bladder or sphincter, which means you’ve always leaked or start to leak once other factors add to the problem.
- Menopause – due to the reduction in the quantity of oestrogen during the menopause many women notice that their bladder becomes lax, with leakage of urine.
- Illness – Kidney or urinary tract infections can cause temporary bladder weakness or incontinence. Severe constipation can also cause these conditions to occur.
- Nerve Damage – It can be caused by nerve damage, such as spinal cord injury, or with nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis.
- Other – Surgery, Medications, or an oversensitive bladder can also lead to bladder weakness.
Whatever the cause Allanda can provide the right best protection to suit you and your lifestyle.
Political speed dating, news production, silent discos and SFA coaching are all part of the first ever Young Carers Festival on 13-14 September in West Linton.
Over 500 young carers from all over Scotland will attend the first ever Young Carers’ Festival. The carers will all have the opportunity to speak to key decision makers at national level about how young carers’ services should be carried out in the future.
On day two, MSPs and guests will be put on the spot during Political Speed Dating, where groups of young carers will have four minutes to get answers to their questions.
The aim of the Festival is to give young carers a voice in how the proposed National Young Carers Forum should be established.
A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 who carries out a caring role which would normally be undertaken by an adult. Young carers are 45% less likely to leave school with a qualification and one third of them self harm.
Scottish Young Carers Development Manager, Louise Morgan, says: ‘Young carers in Scotland have been asking for their own festival for several years. Some have made the long trek south to the English Young Carers Festival, but say that they feel left out when it comes to consulting on matters of policy. This is a fantastic development and is a win – win situation for young carers and the Scottish Government.’
The Scottish Government has provided £200,000 to enable the Young Carers’ Festival to take place.