Carers Week 2021: Carers’ struggle should be all our struggle

By Sandra Webster

Carers Week 2021: It is that most wonderful week of the year where those unpaid carers, part of an army contribute more financially in their care to loved ones than the NHS budget in its entirety. The week kicked off with the first pat of the back being a tweet from BoJo. He offered his gratitude about what an amazing job we do. Same singer, same song: expect more from other politicians.

For many unpaid carers, life is difficult, even before the pandemic many were suffering from cuts to services. Lockdown was especially hard. Many had to support people who were told to shield which meant no support going into people’s own homes to offer help. During lockdown many services were shut, treatment and operations postponed. More than ever carers and people with disabilities are struggling but there is little support in place yet.

In their successful care campaign, Edinburgh Branch had an amazing speaker who spoke about wages in a care home and said. The only people who earned less were unpaid carers. Many people receive carers allowance which will be taken into the hands of the new Scottish system but many manage to hold down a job and still care full time. Some are told by the DWP they are too unfit to care but continue to do so.

Caring without support is bad for your health, ability to work, and have the opportunities to get out. Unlike paid carers, though we stand with them we have no breaks or holidays. I wonder how a health and safety official would assess our workplace.

Our difficulty is we are isolated and need to stand together. During Carer’s Week on Twitter, there are two hashtags, #RealCarersWeek, and #BuzzwordBingo. Carers have described their everyday experiences and share them on social media.

#BuzzwordBingo is a description of platitudes connected with care. It is based on an activity a carer I know created.

At a meeting, she and other carers selected 10 phrases often used to describe a caring role. These include, “We appreciate all you do,” “you need a break,” and others. The winner is the person who selects the most first. Carers know these are toom tabard promises but are using Carers Week to call out their usage.

I can honestly say though that many of my carer friends are exhausted. We do what we do because we care and care providers and the Third Sector know this. Carers’ struggles remind me of how I joined the SSP for a kinder, fairer Scotland.

Our role should be treated as a job, not just women’s work or something we are expected to do but truly appreciated and paid for their role. We need respite a short break to allow us to rest. Carers’ struggle should be all our struggle.

The week will end on Saturday but we need to talk about this when the week is over. Please consider tweeting or thinking about how we can support unpaid carers. The word every boss likes to hear, unpaid.

Wishing all our unpaid carers the very best. I am a carer too so this is not Buzzword Bingo I hope. Take Care.