The theme for Carers Week 2019 is: ‘Getting carers healthy and connected in their communities’.
When I became a carer for my daughter in 2002, I was forced to juggle both looking after my other children and a stressful job as a social worker. I was exhausted, emotional and was desperate for both information and support from people who understood. Although caring is a privilege and may be rewarding, it can still be incredibly hard work. It took me many years to admit that and to ask for help.
I believe that talking about these issues and bringing ‘care’ to the forefront as a society will make us stronger as individuals and collectively. Carers Week 2019 (June 10th to 16th) offers an opportunity to raise the profile of carers as well as celebrating and recognising the work that goes on behind the scenes.
In Working with Family Carers, a book inspired by my own experiences, I discuss some of the issues faced by carers in the UK. From identifying carers and providing information and advice and, given the likelihood of practitioners themselves providing (and receiving) care, it also offers a discussion regarding maintaining resilience and the extent to which personal experiences guide and inform practitioners response to work with carers.
Statistics show there are over 7 million carers in the UK, a number acknowledged to be seriously underestimated .We know that at least one in five of us will become carers in our life time. Caring needs to be seen as a part of life, the majority of us will be givers and receivers of care at some point and sharing information and supporting each other will help us all in understanding the importance of care. Organisations such as The Carers Trust and Carers UK are great sources of information for carers, students, and practitioners.
I personally appreciate the work of both organisations who supported me during some very stressful times, and because of this, I have chosen to donate all the royalties from my book Working with Family Carers to be shared equally between Carers Trust and Carers UK as a way to acknowledge this and give a little back.
Valerie Gant April 2019