Today, 28th November, marks Carers Rights Day. There are currently an estimated 650,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, which is 1 in 8 Scots, all of whom have undertaken what can be an incredibly demanding role. Often, people are not aware of support that they are entitled to have in order to continue caring for their loved one. This may be practical support, such as replacement care to give the carer time off, help with lifting and bathing, equipment and home adaptations that can be vital in protecting carers’ health. It can also mean a deeper understanding of their rights, to make sure that people are empowered to know what support they are entitled to.
The Dementia Carer Voices project has been working to ensure that the voices of people who care for a loved one with dementia are heard, and that carers are recognised for the expertise that they bring. The ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign involves Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw sharing his own personal experiences in caring for his late mum, Joan, along with those who have shared their stories with the project in the hopes of making a positive difference in the lives of others. The campaign asks people to reflect on these personal stories and experiences and make a pledge to make a difference, highlighting the role that each individual can play in ensuring that carers are appreciated and acknowledged as full and equal citizens.
The Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, their Families and Carers recognised that whilst in theory everyone has the same human rights, people with dementia, their families and carers face cultural, social and economic barriers to fulfilling these. The Charter was designed to empower people with dementia, those who support them and the community as a whole, to ensure their rights are recognised and respected. Carers Scotland recently released the ‘Carers Self-Advocacy Toolkit’ which aims to give carers looking after loved ones increased knowledge, skills and self-confidence in asking for information, products and services and also advice on how to challenge decisions effectively. They have also released a new range of resources to help carers find out about their rights and where they can go to get help including a new edition of the Carers Rights Guide.
It is essential that people who work in health and social care get to know the person they are supporting and find out what is important to them in order to provide the best support. Dementia Carer Voices has been a strong supporter of the ‘Getting to Know Me’ document from Alzheimer Scotland and the 5 ‘Must Do With Me’ action points from the Person Centred Health Care Collaborative, which is working to ensure that health and care services are focused on people, their families and carers. You can find out more about other available supports and initiatives on the Dementia Carer Voices Help and Information page here.
Carers Rights Day provides the perfect opportunity to recognise the tireless efforts of unpaid carers throughout the country, and to recognise the role that every one of us can play to make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia and their carers. If you would like to join the 2500 people who have already made a pledge, please email your pledge to firstname.lastname@example.org or to view the pledges we have received so far, please visit www.dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com/pledges.
Thank you for all your support – we can make a difference!