When you're caring for someone it is really important to ensure that you look after yourself too.
This is particularly important at the moment when some people are increasing the amount of unpaid care they provide.
Caring can be very rewarding, but without the right support it can have a negative impact on your health, career, finances and relationships.
This year you may have found that your caring role has become more challenging, or you may have taken on new caring responsibilities.
We recognise that differing communities have differing needs and we must ensure that we work with the communities themselves to tackle them. Working with our partners the Veterans Hub (Wyke Regis), the Defence Medical Welfare Service and the NHS Dorset CCG we applied to NHS England in 2021 for a small grant to find out more about the experiences of carers from the Armed Forces community.
We gathered feedback from 202 carers/cared for people, which has highlighted considerable need. We have found out that carers from this community tend to start caring at an earlier age than the general population of carers which means that they are juggling paid employment with their caring role and that there are specific issues around people seeking support and coping with mental health needs. We are now planning how we can tackle this need with our partners, the carers and the wider Armed Forces community.
We particularly want to implement the following work alongside carers and our partners from the Armed Forces and in the statutory, private and voluntary sectors:
Carers from the Armed Forces Community
The development of carers groups & peer support networks to tackle isolation
Many carers are telling us that they feel isolated and/or lonely. Being valued as an individual as well as a carer is important for them.
Hearing the experiences of other carers and sharing information and support will help them. We are aiming to develop support groups for carers, including organised groups e.g. with a speaker, as well as self-support networks.
Help with accessing support services, including respite support
Many local carers are not aware of the existing support which is available, and many support services are not aware of the needs of the carers. We will raise awareness of and support carers to access support which is available from statutory, private, and voluntary organisations including military charities/community groups.
We will work with carers and armed forces partners to influence local services to develop their practice and understanding, so that they are more responsive to carers from the Armed Forces community.
And we will continue learning, by engaging with new carers in different areas, it is crucial that we keep listening and responding to the needs of carers.