Dementia Awareness Week recently helped to highlight support groups and services for people with dementia and their carers. These include the wonderful Singing with Dementia Group and the Poppy Day Centre, both at the Humphrey Booth Resource Centre in Swinton. Carers Week in the middle of June will also allow many Salford organisations to reach out and offer help to carers. But why is this support not offered more routinely?
I have spent much time in Parliament since I was elected talking about carers’ issues and how we could help or support them. A recent inquiry into Caring and Family Finances demonstrated how much extra support is needed. Family carers feel many financial pressures. They often give up work or reduce their working hours in order to care. They find they have extra costs due to the ill-health or disability of the person being cared for.
This situation has been made worse under the Conservative-led Government, as their cuts have led to local councils cutting adult social care budgets. We know that the demand for care is growing with the greater needs of our ageing population. Yet, since 2010, local councils have cut their spending on social care by 20%. Fewer people are able to get publicly-funded care and carers have to spend more on care services, equipment and home adaptations.
These difficulties also highlight the need carers have for information, advice and support. Salford Carers Centre already plays a vital role in working with GPs and health staff to identify carers so that they can find the help and advice they need. The Government could have helped this work by changing its care legislation to give NHS bodies a duty to identify carers and make sure they could get help, advice and support. But the Government refused to make this change, meaning that many carers will still not know about services or support to help them with caring.
I will continue to campaign for carers until there is recognition that GPs and health staff should always identify carers and make sure they get the services and support they need.