The theme of Carers Week 2007, which runs from 11-17 June is ‘My Life as a Carer.’ In the run-up to Carers Week, Barbara visited two local carers who each told her about their lives as carers.
Barbara visited June Greenhalgh, at her home in Boothstown, and Roy Beswick in Walkden, to talk about their experiences of being a carer, of the support they currently receive, and to discuss ways that support for carers could be improved.
Mrs Greenhalgh cares for her husband, Bernard, who suffers from vascular dementia and has other complex needs, requiring constant support. Mrs Greenhalgh told Barbara that she was very concerned about the quality of respite care, which her husband has used and she felt that it should be possible for cares to give feedback about quality. Barbara promised to raise this issue with the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
Mr Beswick gave up his job to become the primary carer for his son Michael, who suffers from Autism and has complex needs. Mr Beswick was concerned about changes to school holiday activities which affect autistic children who may have difficulty with group and team activities This means that there is now no suitable scheme for Michael to attend. Mr Beswick was also keen that health and social care provision for children with complex needs should be delivered in a joined-up way as a matter of course.
Both Mrs Greenhalgh and Mr Beswick are supported by the local Salford Crossroads group, based at Eccles Old Town Hall, and Glenda Burrows, Manager of Salford Crossroads accompanied Barbara on the visits. Crossroads provides practical support where and when it is most needed - usually in the home. A trained Carer Support Worker will take over from the carer to give them 'time to be themselves'.
After meeting the carers, Barbara said:
“Support for carers in Salford is generally good, but I am concerned that many carers do not get to hear about the support available. In the last census, over 22,000 people in Salford identified themselves as carers, but relatively few of these people are known to the various support agencies. It is clear that we need to do more both in terms of identifying these hidden carers, and also in promoting the services on offer.
“The people who know most about being a carer, and the support that carers need, are carers themselves, which is why I wanted hear of their experiences.”
Barbara, who has been appointed Parliamentary Champion for Carers Week 2007, arranged a special debate at Westminster last week, to highlight the contribution that carers make, and to promote her Ten Minute Rule Bill, the Carers (Identification & Support Bill), which calls for health professionals and schools to identify carers, and ensure that they receive assistance and support with their caring responsibilities.
During the debate, Barbara was able to draw attention to the good work currently being done in Salford, by groups such as Crossroads and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, and by Salford City Council through the Salford Carers Strategy.
Barbara meets Roy Beswick at his home in Worsley