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An estimated 1 in 8 people in Scotland are unpaid carers. This translates to around 14% of registered patients who could be unpaid carers and as many as 10% of them may be young carers. It is estimated their work saves health and social care services £10.3bn each year.
A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without their regular and substantial help due to disability, physical or mental illness or addiction.
Carers usually don’t choose to become carers and often do not consider themselves as such. Instead, they see themselves as responding to family circumstances and doing what they can to support someone they care about, often saying “I just have to get on with it, if I didn’t then who would?”.
Many of these people do not receive support or recognition of their crucial role. Without support, carers can suffer from stress, mental ill-health, back problems due to lifting, sleep problems, financial problems due to not being able to work, lack of time for themselves and a tendency to neglect their own health issues.
There are a number of organisations and services available, set up especially to recognise, support, train and advise carers of all ages. Their aim is to make sure that the needs of carers are not forgotten about. There is a list of useful websites available at the bottom of this page, and a list of training courses available for carers in this news item linked here.
The Practice is also dedicated to recognising the contribution of carers, and making sure we support them in any way we can.
For example, all unpaid carers are entitled to receive the flu vaccination for free at the practice each year, and if they are not reviewed on an annual basis for a pre-existing long term condition, they are also welcome to make an appointment with one of our practice nurses for an annual health check. They can also request to be referred to social work for a carers assessment in order to review their role and needs as a carer.
The clinical records of all our unpaid carers are flagged as such, so if you think you fall under the definition of an unpaid carer, the first step is to let us know. The next time you are in the surgery, let your doctor or nurse know that you are an unpaid carer, and your medical records will be updated with this information so that it can be recognised and considered in any future consultations:
ESSENTIAL CONTACTS LIST FOR CARERS
VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian)
Carers Training (website managed by VOCAL)
The CA(I)RE Programme (based out of the Eric Liddell Centre)
Princess Royal Trust for Carers 0141 221 5066
Carers Scotland 0141 445 3070
Find your local Carers Centre
Carers Strategy Scotland
Information on Carers Assessments
The Coalition of Carers in Scotland
Shared Care Scotland
Young Carers Services Alliance (contact via The Princess Royal Trust for Carers)
Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project