Care for the Carers, the East Sussex carers centre, is encouraging all carers to understand their rights, as part of the national Carers Rights Day,which is Thursday 23rd November 2023.

A carer is anyone who looks after someone who couldn’t manage without their help. This could be a friend, family member or neighbour who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction could not cope without your support. Two out of three of us will become a carer at some point in our lives. It can happen at any time and to anyone, and it has a huge impact on a person’s life.

73% of people who care for someone don’t know they are a carer, and as a result 46% miss out on essential financial support and 36% on practical support. This can include key rights such as flexible working, being consulted on hospital discharge, being identified as a carer by your GP and the right to a Carers Assessment and Carers Allowance.

Anyone over the age of 18 who looks after someone on a regular basis, is entitled to have a Carers Assessment. This looks at the care you provide and how this affects your life, and importantly, tells you about the support available to you.

There are thousands of carers in the county who are missing out on these rights, because they don’t know they are available to them.

Mary is a local carer who has her own health issues and has been caring for her son for 25 years. She had cared for her daughter also, but she very sadly died last year. Mary’s son’s mental health condition means that she has to be available most of the time for emotional and practical support. This of course has an effect on Mary’s own wellbeing, “I realised how anxious I am. I’m on tenterhooks all the time I’m at home.”

Earlier this year, Mary spoke to a Carer Support Worker at Care for the Carers, who was reviewing her Carers Assessment. She was asked about her caring role, what she was having to do to support her son, and what impact it was having on her. “During the conversation, I became aware of how much I do. It really opened my eyes and I realised that I spend a lot of time waiting around in case I’m needed, and that is very stressful. It is very tiring but it’s not his fault.”

“I came away feeling very affirmed in my role. I am very apt to think, ‘I don’t do very much, why does it make me so tired?’  I expect many carers feel like that!  It was very valuable to me to feel validated and positive.”

Mary was told about support that was available to her from social services, (“…that I didn’t know about”) and was able to apply for a Carers Personal Budget, which provided her with funds which will mean she can start swimming again, an activity that has been great for Mary’s wellbeing in the past.

Jennifer Twist, Chief Executive of Care for the Carers says: “You may be new to caring for someone, or may have been a carer for years – we are here to offer support to everyone. We want carers to know that they are not alone, that they have rights and that there is help available. On 23rd November we are asking everyone in East Sussex to help raise awareness of Carers Rights Day and spread the word, so that no one is left to care alone.”

To support Carers Rights Day you can download social media posts or a poster from the Care for the Carers website at www.cftc.org.uk/crd23 and use the hashtags #CarersRightsDay and #carersupport, to help spread the word!

If you care for someone who could not manage without your help, and you’d like to know more about support available and your rights as a carer, call Care for the Carers on 01323 732390 or visit www.cftc.org.uk.