At a recent DSDC conference a man came to speak to me with his mother on his arm. He wanted to tell me a story.
Over the year since his mother was diagnosed with dementia he had wondered why other people he knew were accessing a lot of facilities that he’d not been offered, including day care support and help in the house. It was only when he came to our event (which was really aimed at professional staff...he’d gatecrashed it! My kind of hero!) that he discovered that he was entitled to a carer’s assessment, which would have been the gateway to those local supports. He also described how he had been put out of the room when the doctor was examining his mother...out of an overwhelming respect for confidentiality. “The consultation was not confidential,” he remarked. “It was SECRET.”
A lot of what is written about carers emphasises the burden of caring. Carers get ill and tired. Caring costs money and reduces the opportunities for earning. Yet other people often highlight the contribution that caring makes. Having a carer with you reduces the chance of having to go into a care home. The contribution that carers make vastly reduces the cost of dementia to the public purse. What is less often celebrated is the positive aspect of caring, where people find the experience life enhancing, and satisfying. In many cases caring is “love in action”.
So we need to do everything we can to help carers. Making sure that they at least achieve their entitlements is the least we can do. On Carers’ Rights Day, highlight the carers you know and make sure they know what is available to them.