According to Carers UK, every year, 2 million people become carers. However, many are not aware they have turned into one or even know that they are entitled to certain benefits.
Anyone spending more than 20 hours a week looking after loved ones can be considered carers. A recent survey conducted by the newly launched NHS service called Carers Direct revealed that in St Helens, Merseyside, a staggering 14,456 people are hidden carers; nearly two thirds of carers in town are not even aware they are carers.
These are the numbers of only one town – imagine the figures for the whole country.
UK’s biggest carers’ organisation, Carers UK, offers detailed help and advice for carers. On their site you find how to claim benefits and a newly launched ten-step guide for those new to caring.
Nowadays there isn’t a national guide for carers but there are still many things carers can do to make people aware and get the supports they need.
Becoming a carer can be bewildering, confusing and frightening. No one is super human and all carers need some support and back-up.
The Telegraph has reported another shocking news story about elderly people being mistreated by a senior care home nurse so she could have a quite night while on duty.
According to the Telegraph, a 63 year old nurse working at St James’ Park Nursing Home in Dorset was sedating patients, putting call bells out of reach and putting extra incontinence pads on residents so she would not have to change their sheets.
Many of the patients under her care were highly vulnerable and many were dependent on her to meet their basic needs. She was only stopped when a healthcare assistant, Anthony Pitcher, blew the whistle on her.
Mr Pitcher said he often saw Haskings put two incontinence pads on patients at night so she would not have to change the bed sheets in the morning. He also witnessed Haskings taking call bells away from patients.
Jillian Alderwick, chairman of the panel – who worked at St James’ Park Nursing Home in Dorset – said that Haskings had set an “appalling example” to junior staff, commenting that:
“Further the panel considers that the placing of call bells out of the reach of residents was nothing short of abuse and the inappropriate application of more than one continence pad at a time was an assault on the dignity of these vulnerable, elderly residents. Having considered the matter carefully, the panel has come to conclusion that the misconduct in this case was so serious that it is fundamentally incompatible with the registrant continuing to be registered with the NMC.”
The nurse was found guilty of dishonestly obtaining Temazepam tablets, administering unprescribed medication to patients, sleeping on shift, removing their call bells and applying extra incontinence pads. The panel ruled that she should be struck off the register but she was cleared of failing to carry out hourly checks on residents.
Source: The Telegraph Online
Carer UK is an organisation of carers fighting for the rights of carers across the country. Their aim is to make people recognise the true value of carers’ contribution to society and help them get the practical, financial and emotional support carers deserve and need.
In order to help Carers UK reach as many potential carers as possible, the organisation incites people to take in events and sponsorship activities that will help raise funds to aid carers across the country.
One of the most popular is the London Marathon sponsorship scheme, which includes a free membership for a year (worth £18), a free running vest or t-shirt and fundraising tip and support throughout training.
Runners interested in running for Carers UK this year must contact 020 7378 4952 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. You must hurry as there are only 2 gold bond places left.
Other fundraising schemes are:
Adidas Women’s 5K Challenge
Great North Run
Great Scottish Run
2010 Kilimanjaro Climb
According to Carers UK, one in six carers have had to give up or cut work to ensure their loved ones have the appropriate kind of care needed. With a significant number of carers not aware of governments benefits, this has led many to a financial crisis that could be avoid had they known about available initiatives such as the Carers Allowance.
A survey conducted by Ipsos MORI revealed that 9% of carers had to give up work and 7% have reduced their work hours to care. Nearly one third of carers interviewed are caring for over 50 hours a week and the average number of years they had cared for is 6.5 years.
On another survey, this time conducted by Carers UK, numbers were even more alarming. Over two thirds (77%) of carers surveyed cared for 50 or more hours a week, 35% of carers had missed out on State benefits because they didn’t realise they could claim them and 49% said not getting these benefits had directly affected their health, while 20% said they were struggling financially and 20% claimed they were in debt.
Last Friday – December 4th 2009 – was Carers Rights Day and over 1,500 events took place across the UK providing carers with advice and information on their finances including benefits checks and pensions forecasts.
Coinciding with the events, two new advice guides were published by Carers UK. Caring About Your Pension and Looking After Someone: A Carer’s Guide to Rights and Entitlements. Both of which can be ordered from:
* from 0808 808 7777
* by emailing email@example.com.
* or by going into any Lloydspharmacy store. To find local stores visit: www.lloydspharmacy.com
Are you currently caring for a partner, family member or even a close friend? Did you know you were entitled to these benefits? Share your experience with others and lets help spread out the word about this serious matter.
Last week the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson announced that carers are to be included in the priority group for vaccinations against swine flu.
The news was received with great joy by Carers and Organisations like Carers UK. The announcement comes following the welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Public Health, Gillian Merron MP, that carers of people who are immuno-suppressed would be a priority for vaccinations. Although this would have included a number of carers, it excluded people caring for sons and daughters with learning disabilities and other conditions such as incontinence.
The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has advised that:
“Main carers for elderly or disabled people should be encouraged to take up vaccination. This is to protect the welfare of those being cared for who may be at risk if their carer falls ill. We will discuss the implementation of this advice with carers’ organisations, including a number of practical questions, such as how to identify the carers involved.”
Carers UK public affairs manager Emily Holzhausen said:
“We are delighted that Government has accepted our advice that carers should be considered a priority for vaccinations where they provide significant care. We have received a great number of calls from carers concerned about what would happen to the person for whom they cared should they fall ill with swine flu. We look forward to discussing how to reach carers with the Swine Flu ‘Tsar’ Sir Roy Taylor and his team.”
This an important step forward. Prior to this carers had expressed anger that professional care workers were to be offered the vaccine but not carers who are family or friends.
The psychosocial implications of incontinence are huge; often resulting in people becoming afraid to leave their home because they are worried that they will not be able to find a toilet and are fearful of being incontinent. This in turn, can lead to loss of mobility and depression. Incontinence is also known to be a cause of falls in older people.
Understanding the complex nature of incontinence in older people – and how to undertake a comprehensive and holistic assessment to identify the root of their incontinence – is one of the biggest challenges amongst doctors, nurses and carers.
Back in October Nursingtimes.net, the website of leading weekly magazine for nurses in the UK, published a detailed guide to assessing bladder function and urinary incontinence in older people.
The guide provides an overview of the causes of urinary incontinence in older people and the psychological factors that need to be taken into account when assessing and treating the condition within elderly sufferers.
Proving that a holistic assessment by a well-trained nurse or carer with a good understanding of the complex nature of incontinence in older people can result in a cure or improvement of their incontinence.
Caring for Carers seems to be picking up momentum as a delegation of Carers UK members recently visited 10 Downing Street to hand in the Carers Poverty Charter.
The Carers Poverty Charter – launched on BBC Breakfast back in May – calls for urgent action to improve carer finances.
One of the Carers in charge of delivering the Poverty Charter to Number 10 was Don Brereton, Chair of Carers UK, who said:
“This Charter sends a message loud and clear to the Government. Warm words and promises are not enough – carers need action now to stop them falling into poverty as a result of caring.”
The next deliveries have already been shipped out and are going to Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, asking the government to set out a concrete timetable of actions to improve carers’ benefits.
Looking after a patient with incontinence can have a significant emotional impact in on caregiver’s life, taking care of loved ones with incontinence is a strenuous job, 70% of caregivers are uncertain how to help make the situation better and in some cases, they find it even harder to talk about it.
According to survey released by Caring.com, the American equivalent to carers UK, in association with SCA and the makers of TENA Incontinence Products. The survey reveals that one in three carers prefer to avoid the conversation altogether.
The study found that incontinence can have a negative effect on a caregiver’s emotional wellbeing and influence home care and nursing decisions:
– 42% report dealing with their loved one’s incontinence sometimes leads to depression;
– 32% find it emotionally difficult to change their loved one’s incontinence products;
– 27% report incontinence has a negative impact on the relationship they have with their loved one;
– 31% are unable to go on holiday because of their loved one’ incontinence issues, and
– 18% have considered moving, or have moved their parent to a care facility or nursing home because of incontinence.
Despite the fact that this article reflects the problems faced by American carers, the aim of this article is to show UK carers that they are not alone and it is not un-natural to feel one or some of the above, other carers around the globe are facing the same problems when taking care of loved ones with incontinence.
It is estimated that a total of 6 million people in the UK – 10% percent of the population – is looking after sick or elderly relatives and friends. As Carers, these people save the country an incredible sum of £87 billion a year and yet still many of these people are struggling to afford the basic everyday living costs.
With that in mind, The Daily Mirror and Carers UK are launching a campaign to improve the lives of Britain’s carers. On Sunday 11th October, the Daily Mirror joined forces with Carers UK to call for an immediate review of carers’ benefits. Carers UK chief executive Imelda Redmond said:
“The whole issue of allowances is an absolute disgrace. It is not properly recognised how people have to give up their jobs and look after sick and disabled relatives.”
The current Carers Allowance or main benefit for carers, is the lowest of its kind and many carers are not even aware they are entitled to such benefit. Payments are way below the national minimum wage. Carers are currently paid just £53.10 a week which in a minimum of 35 hours’ caring works out at £1.52 per hour when the government minimum wage is £5.80 per hour.
But the benefit is denied to carers if they care for fewer than 35 hours a week, if they receive a state pension, if they earn more than £95.0 a week after tax or if they are full-time students.
The campaign first launched by Carers UK has already won the backing of over 200 organisations including the Daily Mirror.
The campaign’s demands the Government to:
1. Protect carers from falling into poverty or financial hardship.
2. Reflect carers’ different circumstances.
3. Help carers to combine caring with paid work and study.
4. Be easy to understand and straightforward to claim.
What are your views on the current legislation on benefits for carers? Do you think the government is right to assume family should look after their relatives for less than people not working and claiming Job Seekers Allowance, which currently stands at £64.30 for over 25 year olds? Write your comments in the box below.
Taking care of loved ones is a rewarding job. However, it might not be highly profitable and at times can have its ups and downs – one of the biggest obstacles of caring is when the person you care for becomes incontinent.
To help carers across the country overcome this obstacle, we have created this list of incontinence advice and tips with tricks – most have incontinence products to make your life easier.
Disposable Gloves – Always have a box of disposable latex gloves around the house.
Adult Wipes – Adult wet wipes are ideal for the less mobile patients.
Odour Neutralizing Sprays – These sprays will remove room odours instantly.
Incontinence Pads – with a wide range available, disposable or washable pads, there is one suitable for each type of patient.
Bed Protection – These pads are designed to protect bedding, mattresses and chairs. Again you have a choice of washable and disposable pads.
Wash Creams and Mousses – Cleanses, restores and protects even the most delicate skin. Replaces soap and water and other conventional skin conditioning products.
Tip: Keep all these incontinence products in one place, so you don’t have to run around the house looking for them when you need it.
Keep the morale up!
It is extremely important that you, as a carer, don’t make the incontinent person feel bad about their condition. Try talking to them and explaining that Incontinence is a common condition and there is nothing to be ashamed off.
When referring to the “diapers” try not to use that word, use words like incontinence pad or padded underwear instead.
Remember helping people with incontinence can be a strenuous and frustrating task, so every now and then try to put yourself in their situation, that will help you regain your calm and the will help them.