Respite for disabled people and carers is vital, says charity as British Caregiver Award is launched
National disabled people’s charity Revitalise has joined forces with the National Accident Helpline to launch the British Caregiver Award and call for more support for the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers.
Revitalise is working in partnership with National Accident Helpline on the British Caregiver Award, launching today, and the charity’s CEO, Chris Simmonds, will be sitting on the Award’s judging panel. The charity has also provided a respite holiday at one of its three UK centres as the top prize in the British Caregiver Award.
Revitalise is also supporting National Accident Helpline’s ‘Accidental Carers’ campaign and calling for better respite provision for disabled people and carers in order to prevent the breakdown of the caring relationship. The charity is backing up the company’s independent research findings with the results of its own carer surveys.
The two organisations’ research paints a stark picture of the daily lives of unpaid family carers and the barriers that are preventing them from accessing essential respite breaks for themselves and their loved ones.
Among the many findings on which Revitalise and National Accident Helpline’s research agree completely is that a third of carers have never had any significant time away since they started caring and that for the same proportion, guilt was a huge barrier holding them back.
The organisations’ studies found that over a third of carers have passed up on the opportunity for respite due to the feelings of guilt at leaving their loved ones in the care of others. Revitalise is suggesting that this points to a lack of confidence on the part of carers in the quality of respite opportunities currently available.
Revitalise and the National Accident Helpline are hopeful that the Awards and Campaign will draw much-needed attention to the selfless work of UK’s army of unpaid carers and the daily challenges they face.
In the light of the research, Revitalise is calling for much more to be done to support unpaid family carers, especially in terms of regular respite from caring. The charity is urging social care decision makers to pay more attention to the fundamental issues of quality and choice in respite care in order to alleviate carers’ guilt at taking respite breaks from caring and help prevent the breakdown of the caring relationship.
Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:
“We are proud to be partners with the National Accident Helpline on the ‘Accidental Carers’ campaign and the British Caregiver Award. It’s about time that unpaid carers got the national recognition they so richly deserve.
“We must never forget that 6 out of 10 carers do what they do out of love and devotion to the person they care for, but without the lifeline of regular time off from caring, carers – no matter how devoted – risk reaching breaking point.
“That’s why we must do all we can to prevent the caring relationship from reaching breaking point. Prevention is always better than cure and it would be a false economy to expect carers to carry on unsupported. Every pound we spend now on supporting carers will prevent a much greater cost to society if we take carers’ devotion for granted and allow relationships to collapse under the strain.
“Guilt at letting go is clearly a huge psychological barrier for carers, but we have found that carers’ fears about taking time off can be eased if the focus is on providing high quality care for their loved ones, where they can enjoy the company of others in a dignified, stimulating environment – which is precisely what Revitalise provides.
“That’s why we will keep on repeating that access to regular, good quality respite breaks for disabled people and those who care for them should be considered a right, not a luxury.”
“I feel privileged to take my place on the judging panel and more than happy to provide a holiday with Revitalise as the prize. We look forward to giving the winners a well-deserved break, but more importantly, to raising awareness about the incredible contribution of the UK’s unpaid carers.”
Russell Atkinson, CEO of National Accident Helpline, said:
“At National Accident Helpline we hear at first hand every day about the severe impact unforeseen accidents or injuries can have, not just on the injured person but also on their close family, who can find themselves thrust into the position of full-time carer.
“Many of these ‘Accidental Carers’ have their own lives and routines transformed by the need to provide care for their loved one, often 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over the course of months and years.
“Through the British Caregiver Award, we want to highlight the invaluable contribution made by these unpaid carers throughout the UK and to stress how important it is that they get regular respite from their caring role.
“We’re delighted to be working with Revitalise, a great charity which does so much to enrich the lives of the thousands of people who spend time at its centres each year.”
The UK’s army of unpaid carers, currently numbering around 6.5 million, is increasing at a rate of 6,000 people each day. By 2037 the number of unpaid carers in the UK is expected to have soared to nine million. Unpaid carers save the economy an estimated £119 billion per year, an average of £18,473 per carer.