Dear Mr Cameron...

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Carers Trust, the largest charity for carers, welcomed the announcement of an increase in funding for dementia research at the recent G8 Dementia Summit. However research into the care and support needed by people with dementia, and unpaid carers – friends and family who support them – is also urgently needed.

Currently there are 670,000 unpaid carers of people with dementia in the UK who provide the vast majority of care in the home. Many unpaid carers struggle with the impact of caring which then affects their own health and wellbeing. A small percentage of the additional funding pledged would make a huge difference to supporting the specific needs of these unpaid carers.

Caring for someone with dementia is an immense and stressful task. Many carers feel unprepared for this vital role they take on. Unpaid carers of people with dementia have poor health outcomes; higher levels of stress, are more likely to experience depression and poor physical health and face particular difficulties in accessing practical and emotional support. Unpaid carers of people with dementia are more likely to end up requiring care and support themselves – often resulting in two people requiring additional and higher level services instead of one.

The growing scale and cost of supporting people with dementia means it is critical that supporting unpaid carers is at the heart of developing policy and practice to respond to growing levels of need.

Carers Trust's recent research: A Road Less Rocky: Supporting Carers of People with Dementia highlighted critical points where health and social care professionals are missing opportunities to provide unpaid carers with vital information, advice and support. Unpaid carers need access to support before emotional stress and pressure from caring leads to crisis for them and the person with dementia. Our research identified ten critical points in the caring journey where information advice and support are vital including; at the point of diagnosis, when the person with dementia loses capacity to make decisions, loses mobility, or has continence problems, and when the unpaid carer needs emotional support or a break from caring.

We need to recognise the role and contribution of unpaid carers and value their health and wellbeing as key partners in the care for those with dementia. Now is the time for the Government, commissioners and health and social care professionals to commit to ensuring that unpaid carers needs are understood and met at each stage of their caring journey. We ask you, Mr Cameron, to use your Challenge on Dementia to fully research the needs of unpaid carers, and how these can be met.

For the years ahead, whilst more effective treatments are being sought, you can help us to ensure people with dementia, their carers and families get the support they need to carry on caring.

For a full copy of the report click here.

Source: Carers Trust

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