THE COVID-19 pandemic has changed the public perception of health and social care and its importance. The active support shown by communities across Wales for the weekly ‘clap for carers’ and the rainbows that appeared in many windows rightly highlighted society’s support for this critical work.
Nevertheless, the hundreds of thousands of unpaid carers, the vital third pillar of the social care and health system in Wales, have remained largely unrecognised and unsupported despite their selfless contribution during the pandemic.
Research published today by Carers Wales shows that many carers are oblivious to, or are having to fight for advice and support. The evidence published from a survey of over 600 carers across Wales indicates that only 38% had seen information that would help them in their caring role (which is 7% less than the previous year) and 41% hadn’t heard of the Carers Needs Assessment which is a key way carers can access vital services and support.
The findings in Track the Act 5and COVID19 BRIEFING: Impact on Unpaid Carers in Wales paint a worrying picture about the fragility of support to carers before the pressures of COVID-19 hit. Even before the pandemic, many carers had no choice about whether they were ‘willing and able’ to care or what level of caring they undertook as they were unable to access the services needed. Their ability to have a life outside of caring continues to be compromised and their health adversely impacted.
Claire Morgan, Director of Carers Wales commented
“It is time the role and contribution of unpaid carers as the third pillar of our health and care system is properly acknowledged. We need to work together to ensure that systems work properly and seamlessly so that carers rights become a reality and they get the support they deserve. Carers need to be confident that the systems and services are in place, to support them to continue to care for the most vulnerable.
We are calling on public authorities to reinstate and start new services to support unpaid carers as soon as possible, as they are enabling health and social care to continue functioning at this challenging time. We also want to see the vital role of unpaid carers clearly acknowledged as the third element of our health and social care system and recognised including in the rebuilding, financing and delivery of health and social care going forward.”