Ending Loneliness campaign update: Carers in our district putting retirement 'on hold' and feeling increasingly isolated

Carers' Resource staff.
Carers' Resource staff.

This week the Harrogate Advertiser’s Ending Loneliness campaign returns to isolation among carers, after an overwhelming response from readers to our feature on young carers.

A new report from the Carers Trust has highlighted that many older carers in our district are putting retirement ‘on hold’ and feel increasingly isolated in their role.

Stephen Caldwell who takes Raymond Perry out through the Carers' Time Off scheme.

Stephen Caldwell who takes Raymond Perry out through the Carers' Time Off scheme.

Chris Whiley, the director of Harrogate charity Carers’ Resource, is urging carers to speak out and access vital support, after reading the ‘Retirement on Hold, Supporting Older Carers’ report.

Mrs Whiley said: “It’s pretty harrowing to see these findings in black and white, but it does reflect the experiences carers are telling us about on the ground.

“Carers in their 60s and 70s are saying this is not what they expected their retirement to be like. They are caring for someone, often a husband or wife, who is becoming more and more dependent on them.

“The issue is they want to look after their relative or spouse; it’s what they do as their wife or daughter, but it’s a relentless task and one many are doing alone.

“It can be overwhelming with so many calls to make, systems to navigate and understand. All they want is for someone to help them through it. Carers should be applauded, we recognise it’s a really hard role and we’re here to help them on their journey.

“They can have several appointments to get to every week; they have the extra demands of getting their cared for up and ready in the morning, and by the time they get out of the house they can be exhausted and frazzled.”

Carers in the Harrogate district are finding that acting as ‘care coordinators’ and tracking down the right care and support is creating often overwhelming stress and anxiety.

The report emphasises the need for carers to take breaks for their own health and wellbeing, but many feel reluctant to take one unless the person they are caring for is given appropriate care.

Mrs Whiley said: “There are also a lot of emotions involved when caring, and one of them is guilt because carers feel they should be doing all the looking after, and also they don’t feel they can ask others to step in; becoming a carer has a massive impact on relationships.

“Planning for the future is also something many carers can overlook. At Carers’ Resource we can help with this by making sure carers have plans in place should anything happen to them.”

“We urge anyone who is looking after someone, or anyone who feels they may be a carer as their loved one is gradually becoming more dependent on them, to get in touch and we’ll do all we can to lighten the load.”

For information and support, contact Carers’ Resource: 01423 500555, or visit their website: carersresource.org

Your response to our campaign: an appeal from reader Hazel Griffiths

"I'm a carer for my son who has autism and my father-in-law who has dementia. I have just joined the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys triangle of care steering group as a North Yorkshire carer rep. I am passionate in ensuring family carers are recognised and involved in a loved one's care.

Triangle of Care is a therapeutic alliance between service user, staff and carer that promotes safety, supports recovery and sustains wellbeing. The concept of a triangle has been proposed by many carers who wish to be thought of as active partners within the care team.

Carers are often the only constant in the service user’s mental health care journey. They are there when crisis occurs, when the person is well and when that person needs support with day-to-day activities. They often understand the service user’s needs and condition extremely well and as such are a vital partner in care.

If professionals can recognise the support that carers give service users and acknowledge them as a key partner in care then service users will receive better care and support on their journey to recovery. Significantly, if carers are acknowledged and supported then they too are more likely to maintain or improve their own wellbeing.You can download our Triangle of Care guide. Contact: hazel.griffiths@hotmail.com."

Call to action:

Would you like to help raise awareness of isolation among carers? I would love to hear from you. Email me: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk or call 01423 707505.