Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Carers - the invisible army

I am honoured to be part of a small team of facilitators currently running a series of 9 consultation events in various regions of England asking carers to have their say and their input to the revised national carer’s strategy.

The 'New Deal for Carers Strategy' will be published in early 2008 by the Department of Health.

Today I met another 10 fantastic carers as part of that process.

I have worked closely with carers for over 20 years and I sometimes rather arrogantly start to think I know a fair bit about the subject of carers. Then I am pulled up short and reminded with yet another amazing story from carers themselves how little I actually know about what it is really like to be a carer.

Today two people in my group told me they have been caring for their spouse for a total of 15 years between them and neither of them has ever had help from the services that are meant to help them such as social services and the NHS.

For instance neither have ever received respite care – indeed one of the two did not even know what the expression ‘respite care’ actually meant.

It is incredible that in 2007 we have so many 'hidden carers' who are just 'doing the job' from a sense of love, duty and obligation and they are not asking for help because they do not know they are legally entitled to it.

The Government is getting care on the cheap through carers goodwill and the more we can promote the needs of carers the better.


BenefitScroungingScum said...

Hello, liking the idea behind your blog :)
Sorry to be a gobby dissenter from the start but I'm not sure the reasons people don't ask for care is that they don't know they are legally entitled...nor am I sure there is a legal entitlement to care as such. Its just not that simple. Sigh.
Bendy Girl

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for your comment. My main point is that the government would be bankrupt immediately if carers ‘withdrew’ their services. In my NHS career I spent at least 15 years working closely with hundreds if not thousands of carers. In this current exercise I am meeting a large number of carers from all around England. Every time I meet with carers I am reminded of the debt the country owes to these people who provide – free of charge - care through a sense of love, obligation and duty - primarily love. It is scandalous that carers are not acknowledged and recognised fully and given up to date information about what they are entitled to. I am optimistic that things are improving - we have come a long way already in fact. When I think about how little there was for carers 20 years ago we have definitely moved a long way. HAVING SAID THAT I STILL THINK IT IS SCANDALOUS HOW UNDER–VALUED CARERS STILL ARE.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Trevor, with that I could not agree more, it's a national shame. I wrote a post on the subject of carer's allowance recently called Still no care for carers.
I worry that if the New Deal for Carers is anything like the New Deal for Disabled people it will in reality make things worse as the true agenda is only to reduce welfare benefit payments.
I freely admit however that I know far less about the raw deal of carers as I'm not priviledged enough to have anyone acting in that role.
Bendy Girl

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks again for your comments.

I remain an optimist.

I hope carers and their supporters keep the pressure on the government to deliver on this strategy and as a result we see major new money invested in carers support.

Some carers need support to voice their concerns whilst we must not be patronising – many carers are more than able to eloquently argue their own case. This also applies of course to the people they are caring for.

It annoys me intensely when I read that the amount of money we spend on ice cream in Europe would be enough to provide a primary school education for every child in the world ….. And yet this week I hear from two carers who between them have cared for 15 years for a spouse have not had any help whatsoever from health or social care.

I keep asking myself what our great, great, grandchildren will think of us as a supposedly caring society when they look back to 2007 in 150 years time!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor,
I was one of those who attended the event in Newcastle and was yourself who was the facilitator on our table.
Although it was such an emotional day for some who shared their experiences with you,it actually opened our eyes more to what is going on in various parts of our own areas.
You made the day enjoyable and your approachable attitude meant that you made us all feel at ease right away.
I have since been asked to attend the event in Leeds.Hope to see you there.
Many thanks....Rosemary O'Neill

Trevor Gay said...

Hello Rosemary - how good to hear from you and thanks for your kind comments.

I worked for many years in the NHS and was heavily involved with carers services. Every time I meet carers I am impressed and moved. I sometimes feel I am well informed about the role carers play in society and then I am always surprised when I hear some of the inspiring stories from carers – such as the day in Newcastle.

I will be involved in the London national event and sadly I cannot make the Leeds event.

Please do carry on visiting Simplicity Blog - I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor,

Rosemary here.I hear your event in London went well.I was at the Leeds one today.Sam ( Samuel ) was our facilitator and he was a real canny lad.Like you did at Newcastle,he put everyone at ease today and the whole day was enjoyable and productive.
I look forward to receiving the summary.
Take care

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rosemary and thank you for visiting Simplicity Blog and updating me on the Leeds event. I am sorry I was not able to make that one. I enjoyed the London event and it sounds like Sam did a great job - I am not surprised - I rate him very highly. I am so pleased you felt it was a good event and I am sure the Government will have to take notice of all the rich stories and comments made by carers - we need to see action to follow on from these wonderful events. Carers must be heard!

Do keep in touch as things develop.

Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor,

The pest is back.

Will you by any chance be at the final consultation event in Leeds Jan 11th 2008??

Hope you enjoyed Christmas.Best wishes for 2008.


Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rosemary - So far we've had a great Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Yes I will be working in Leeds on 11 January and look forward to meeting you again. Have a fabulous New Year!

Anonymous said...

Where were you Trevor.I looked for you in Leeds.I saw young Sam around but not you.
Hope all is ok with you.


Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rosemary - Yes I was there - I was on Table One. I didn't see you there and I had to rush off at the end to catch a train. It was another enjoyable event and I was pleased to see Gordon Brown putting carers so high on his political and personal agenda. Hope you enjoyed the event.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor,

Just watched your video with Fox.Everything you said made sense and if anything can also be used to describe the plight of carers now.In a way Gordon Brown is a manager ( of sorts lol ) and we
( carers ) are the front line.If he has not listened to us come the Announcement he has failed.

I have recently joined a new campaigning group online,links below.Some of the testimonies may interest you.

I know you are a busy fella but if you get time take a look.If there is any advice you could give us on the forum I would really appreciate it.



My claim to fame in years to come will be...I met Trevor Gay,just teasing you..lol.

Hope you are well



Trevor Gay said...

Thanks very much for your comments Rosemary – I am very well thanks.

I enjoyed the Fox experience – much less nervous than I thought I would be actually. I like the analogy of Gordon Brown and front line carers– let’s wait and see what happens. I remain optimistic.

I will have a look at the web sites you mentioned and do let me have your e mail address so I can let you know what I think.

As for being famous …. I am no more or less famous than my dear 78 year old Mum who’s only claim to fame is bringing up three kids brilliantly and being a wonderful loving mother.

The main thing in life is that we try to do our best and enjoy ourselves.

Fame is fickle methinks : - )

Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor,I have sent you an email.Mine will probably go to your junk box so please keep a look out for it.

Many thx


Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rosemary - yes I did get your e-mail - I will respond as soon as possible - keep up the good work!