With Carers Rights Day approaching on Friday 30 November, West Sussex County Council, the NHS and local expert charity provider partner Carers Support West Sussex are working together, urging family and friend carers to make sure they’re getting the support they’re entitled to.
At the moment only around 20% of the 89,000+ carers in the county are accessing support. Others may not realise they could be entitled to receive Carer’s Allowance, a Wellbeing Review or access to a full Carer Assessment or to receive Carer’s Allowance or the wide range of information, advice and support services that are available for carers.
To help better inform carers, Carers Support West Sussex is hosting a programme of events on Carers Rights Day. These include legal advice workshops in Crawley and Chichester, drop-in sessions in Crawley, Horsham, Haywards Heath, Chichester, Worthing and Littlehampton, hospital information stands at Princess Royal Hospital, Surrey and Sussex Hospital, St Richard’s and Worthing Hospital and a friendly Facebook Q&A between 10am and 12pm.
Mark Hughes is a carer for his partner and is also chairman of the local partnership Carers’ Planning Group. He said: “With many carers it is about the caring first; they don’t often think about the rights they have and very often they just want to look after the person care for. Anything for themselves tends to come second, so that very often their own health suffers because they want to look after their loved ones.
“Carers often don’t see themselves as carers. The first big step is to acknowledge that they are carers. It took me two to three years of attending a carer group before I accepted that I was a carer. So for you, your rights as a carer may be further down the line. It may not be your immediate thought, but as a carer you do have rights.”
Jennie Musgrove, CEO at Carers Support West Sussex said: “An overwhelming number of selfless family and friend carers are caring for others across West Sussex, often in very tough and trying conditions. Carers Rights Day this year is an opportunity for us all to speak to more carers and to find others. We want to let every carer know they have a right to advice and information from the very point that they start in their caring role, particularly to help them plan for the future which is this year’s theme. We really need more local people to help us create a Carer Friendly West Sussex.”
West Sussex County Council is also encouraging businesses and other employers in the county to ‘Think Carer’ and support any of their employees who find themselves in a caring situation. A video explaining the Think Carer approach can be seen here: https://youtu.be/PDOyYcBaZ4w
Amanda Jupp, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “Often people caring for their loved ones don’t realise that they are fulfilling the essential role of Carer, it is just something they quietly get on with.
“Please could I encourage anyone who is looking after a family member or friend, to make this Carers Rights Day the day they come forward and ask for the help which is their entitlement.
“We as a society need to change our approach to Carer wellbeing, therefore I am asking all employers in the county to consider how they could make life easier for the carers in their organisation. Often it is the smallest of changes that can have the biggest impact.
“It is time that we recognised the enormous contribution Carers make to our communities as well as to the health and wellbeing of their loved ones.”
For more information about Carers Rights Day and what is happening in West Sussex, you can visit www.carerssupport.org.uk
If you are interested in finding out what steps you might take to becoming a more carer friendly employer you can contact the Carers Commissioning Manger at CarerCommissioning@westsussex.gov.uk