FROM time to time I visit constituents in their homes when mobility or other issues mean attending my surgery would be burdensome.
One such case recently was a doughty lady in her late 80s who despite her own increasing disabilities is the main carer for her husband, now sadly suffering from Alzheimer’s. A remarkable achievement, even if we are talking about a generation renowned for stoical self-reliance.
But our rightful praise and admiration cannot blind us to the fact that the country’s changing age profile means instances of this kind are far from unique – and the burden on carers is growing.
Across the South East, the Alzheimer’s Society supports roughly 9,394 people living with dementia, and the Carers Support Service for North and Mid Sussex reckons to have 34,000 carers on its 351 square mile patch. Not surprisingly, as the demands of people being cared for at home grow more complex, there is a matching need to support those who are taking the strain, day in and day out.
We know that reform of the care and support system is needed to provide people with more choice and control and to reduce the insecurity that they and their families often face. ‘Caring for our Future: Shared Ambitions for Care and Support’ was launched by the Department of Health in the wake of the Dilnot Report on meeting the long-term challenge of an ageing population.
It’s an engagement exercise to identify key areas of concern before the Government responds to the Dilnot Commission in the spring. The aim is to identify the priorities of people who use care and support services, carers, local councils, care providers, and the voluntary sector.
Leaders from the care and support community have been asked to help the Government in steering the discussions. The idea is for grass roots organisations to be in the frame of policy making, contributing know-how from initiatives like West Sussex County Council’s Carers Support Service mentioned earlier.
In September, the area covered by its Personal Health Budgets Pilot for Carers of People with early stage dementia was extended to include Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex. Their remit is to try to find hidden carers and offer them a holistic style of support - practical, emotional and financial.
As their flyer states, each carer is able to choose what is best for their own health and wellbeing, and there is no financial assessment for funding and support.
If this could be a starting point to better wellbeing for you or someone you know, why not get in touch on 01293 657040 or visit www.carerssuport.org.uk.
MP for Horsham