It’s Carers Week from June 8-14, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of caring and highlight the challenges that carers face.
Yet while this annual national campaign will be celebrating the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers, many of these unsung heroes will be feeling alone and struggling to cope.
Many don’t even think of themselves as carers and end up missing out on advice and information that can help make their lives – and the lives of those they look after – so much easier, says leading south east law firm Furley Page.
“There are many ways we can all help and offer our support,” says Furley Page Partner Nicola August, who heads the firm’s Elderly and Vulnerable Client Team. “As individuals, for example, you can send information about caring to family and friends and get them to support Carers Week via social media or you can organise activities or events to draw attention to just how important the role of a carer is.
“Employers can also help by recognising that their staff may have caring responsibilities too and that there are many simple steps they can take to improve the wellbeing of colleagues. Just talking about caring makes a difference,” adds Nicola.
This year’s Carers Week focuses on building Carer Friendly Communities which can support carers to look after their loved ones; this is something that Nicola, who advises families and carers of vulnerable and elderly clients, and who specialises in care funding advice and later life matters, understands only too well.
“We recognise that carers are individuals with needs of their own, which is why we provide as much help as possible.
“For example, carers may not be aware that the new Care Act – arguably the biggest shake-up in social care for more than 60 years – is bringing in a number of sweeping changes that will have an impact on them. Some of the Care Act came into effect on April 1, including new obligations on local authorities.
“As a carer, you now have new rights which include entitlement to a carer’s assessment where you appear to have needs of your own in connection with your role as a carer. There is also now a national eligibility criteria, which means that if you or the person you’re caring for meets a minimum threshold, you may be eligible to receive support,” adds Nicola.
Major changes to the funding of long-term care are also likely to impact on families. “While most of the changes to social care funding don’t come into effect until April 2016, carers may be concerned about how the person they are caring for will be able to pay for care and are unsure about what help they may be entitled to,” says Nicola.
“Most press coverage of the changes has focused on the over-simplified headline-grabbing statistics, such as a cap on fees payable but, as always, the devil is in the detail and the new rules are complicated. Many people are struggling to understand the full implications of these changes but these are all issues which we can offer guidance on.”
Nicola and her team can also give carers and their families help and advice on Will drafting, Advance Decisions (or Living Wills), Powers of Attorney, and care fee funding (under the new Care Act), including NHS Continuing Healthcare.
For further help on any of these issues, contact Nicola August on 01227 763939.
To find out more about Carers Week, go to www.carersweek.org
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