Support for Carers
Are you a carer?
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family member or friend who could not always manage without their support. They might look after someone with a physical disability, learning disability, autistic spectrum disorder, long term health condition, mental health issue or a problem with substance misuse. This is not the same as someone who works professionally as a care worker or someone who provides care through a voluntary organisation.
You could be helping with household tasks such as cleaning or cooking, administering medication, organising and transporting someone to medical appointments, providing personal care or providing emotional support.
You could be doing it once a day, a couple of times a week or all the time. There are no time limits to being a carer. Looking after someone can be a positive and rewarding experience. It can also be exhausting, stressful and isolating.
Download Carer Support Wiltshire's guide for unpaid carers to find out about more support available.
Parent carers provide support to their children, including grown up children who could not manage without their help. The child/adult can be ill, disabled, or have mental health or substance misuse problems.
If you are a parent carer, visit Wiltshire Parent Carer Council to find out more information and support available to you.
What is a carers assessment?
All carers can ask for a carers assessment, and a review of their needs as things change.
Assessment of both the carer and the adult they care for must include consideration of the wellbeing of both. The Care Act 2014 includes protection from abuse and neglect as part of the definition of wellbeing. As such, a Care Act Assessment for the cared-for person and/ or a carer support assessment for the carer are important opportunities to explore the individuals circumstances and whether more information or support could be provided so that abuse or neglect is prevented from occurring. For example, by providing condition-specific training to the carer or to support them to care more safely. Where that is necessary, the local authority will make arrangements for providing it.
Further information about carers assessments and how to access one can be found here.
Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It applies when an adult:
- has needs for care and support
- is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
- as a result of those needs is unable to protect themself against the abuse or neglect, or the risk of it
Effective safeguarding involves organisations working together to prevent the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while ensuring, wherever it's possible, that the views and wishes of an individual are at the heart of decisions that affect them.
Many people with care and support needs are well looked after and receive help when they need and want it. However sometimes people, particularly those who are older and frailer, or those who may live with dementia or communication problems can be more vulnerable.
Abuse or neglect can be difficult to spot but below are some of the signs that might suggest there is a problem.
- Unexplained or frequent injuries – that might be bruising, cuts, welts, burns, marks on a person’s body or neck, or significant loss of hair
- Someone being reluctant to be alone with an individual or their behaviour to an individual in their lives changing dramatically
- Unwillingness to see a GP, seek professional medical help or personal care when it is needed
- Low self-esteem – the victim may feel the abuse is their fault when it is not
- Marked changes in someone’s behaviour. These might include uncooperative or aggressive behaviour or, instead, signs of distress, tearfulness, anger, or withdrawal
Circumstances in which a carer could be involved in a situation that may require a safeguarding response could be:
- a carer witnessing or speaking up about abuse and neglect
- a carer experiencing intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are caring for, or from professionals and organisations they are in contact with
- a carer intentionally or unintentionally harming or neglecting the adult they care for, on their own or with others
It is essential that any carers speaking out about abuse are listened to and that where appropriate a safeguarding enquiry is undertaken and other agencies are involved as necessary.
If a carer experiences intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are supporting, or if a carer unintentionally or intentionally harms or neglects the adult they support, consideration should be given to:
- whether, as part of the assessment and support planning process for the carer and, or, the adult they care for, support can be provided that removes or mitigates the risk of abuse. For example, the provision of training or information or other support that minimises the stress experienced by the carer. In some circumstances the carer may need to have independent representation or advocacy; in others, a carer may benefit from having such support if they are under great stress or similar; and
- whether other agencies should be involved; in some circumstances where a criminal offence is suspected, this will include alerting the police, or in others the primary healthcare services may need to be involved in monitoring.
If you are caring for someone in Wiltshire
- It is a good idea to register as a carer with your GP practice
- Carer Support Wiltshire provides a wide range of help and advice for carers including coordinating a network of organisations that deliver training to carers, and advice on accessing independent advocacy support
- You can find out more about how to access help and support on the Your Care, Your Support Wiltshire website
Remember that you can make a difference and you can get professional advice when you think there is problem. Working together we can keep people who need help safe.