Carers Week - Thank you

6-12 June 2016 is Carers Week. So many families, the unseen, unpaid care workforce. Family carers deserve to be acknowledged this special week. They also deserve a system in place to support them in the role they do all year round. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that families with loved ones in care homes are carers too.

With the ever increasing trend of care homes failing to deliver good care, families who are physically and practically unable to look after their loved one at home, find themselves being faced with having to find 24 hour care, provided by a care home.

They think the £700, £800, even £1,000 a week fee will ensure their loved one will receive the specialised care they are unable to offer. Think again.

The reality is families all over the UK, the worry and stress does not end the day they realise their loved one is not safe to live alone, that they cannot meet their needs and the community resources are not there. Not only is their loved one now in a care home, they find themselves faced with poor, often shocking standards of care. Care home staff demoralised, unsupported by their employers, having little or no training, yet they are expected to understand the needs of their residents. It is not uncommon to find your loved one has not had adequate food or drink, little or no personal care, not taken outside for fresh air, few or no activities, left unsupervised for hours, left in soaked incontinence pads for hours.

Families find themselves having to monitor their loved ones care, picking up on what is not being done. Overnight they now need to become medical experts, dementia experts, legal experts .... when all they want to do is spend quality time with their loved one, knowing they are safe and cared for. Never underestimate how hard it is to raise concerns to a care home provider and the consequences of your actions.

Families are not only having to adapt to their new situation, they also find themselves thrown into a world of bullying and threats from a care home provider. Many providers do not take kindly to proactive families who notice failings and raise concerns. The actions of bullying care home providers can result in illness, marriage breakdowns, loss of friendships, loss of jobs, house relocations. It can result in a complete unjustified character assassination, that has far reaching long term consequences. Care home providers do not see any issue with their actions, yet sadly, for many families, this time will be their lasting memories of their loved one. Families are told to be mindful of their own needs, to take some time out for them, to recharge. How can you do that when you have to spend all your time monitoring their care. Which takes us right back to where we started - Families - an UNPAID WORKFORCE in care. So please, spare a thought for all these 'care home families' on this special week. Thank you.

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