Today’s blog comes from Councillor Helen Holland, cabinet member for Adult Social Care, to mark Carers Week (10-16 June), reflecting on the vital and often unsung role carers play.
This week is Carers Week, and this gives me the chance to tell you what I have been doing during this special week, but also how our work to support carers fits with the wider Better Lives transformation programme.
An important element of the Better Lives programme is the work we are doing to boost the usage of TEC (technology enabled care).
We have been really clear that TEC will not replace person-to-person individual support, but that better use of technology can enhance personal care, by taking away some of the more mundane tasks, and increasing people’s independence. I am passionate about the difference TEC can make to people’s lives and went on to the Emma Britton show on BBC Radio Bristol this week to talk about it.
This week I also attended the opening of a lovely exhibition, ‘The Art of Caring’, featuring beautiful artwork and crafts made by carers. I also went to a really thought-provoking and lively session at the Vassall Centre called ‘Getting Carers Connected’. Both of these events really brought it home to me again this week, the tremendous work done day-in and day-out, by thousands of people in our city who care for family members.
As we were reminded of at the art exhibition, if all the people who care for someone decided tomorrow that they were not going to carry on with their caring responsibilities, the cost to the public purse, to the Council, the NHS and other services would be massive.
However, it’s not just the financial issues that we need to consider. Many elderly, ill or disabled people want the familiarity and security of a family member’s care, and those carers are very often selfless in their role, in some cases, losing contact with friends and activities they have known and enjoyed for years. I also know that, sadly, being a carer may also lead to some people losing their job or missing out on career opportunities.
This week I have been hearing from carers about how being able to access help and advice from carer’s support organisations can make a huge difference to their lives – having access to a support group where they can share their frustrations, get respite with activities that promote mindfulness and relaxation, as well as getting practical support with benefits, equipment and so on, all makes a difference and helps them to be able to carry on supporting their loved ones.
It seems appropriate this week that Channel Four aired the first episode of The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes. Set in Bristol, the pioneering project featured a restaurant staffed by people living with dementia.
Do try and catch the programme, and see the rest of the series. It really challenges assumptions you might have about people living with dementia – but again, it also shows the amazing job that family members do in caring for them, the stresses and strains – and also the moments of great joy – that come with that.
You can find out more about Carers Week 2019 here