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Help unpaid carers to care

Comment 6th July 2010

Unpaid carers are generally regarded as a resource at best and as a nuisance at worst by health and social care professionals.   Research shows that they often become ill through stress due to the demands of their caregiving role and the associated obstructive bureaucracy.   Instead of exploiting and subjugating them, my idea is firstly to invest in unpaid carers by paying them appropriately for the work they do and secondly, to 'open up' residential care homes as suggested by Julia Neuberger in her book 'The Moral State we're in'.   If they were pleasant places to work in and visit (as few are) standards of care would improve and expensive quangos such as the Care Quality Commission would gradually become redundant. 

Why does this matter?

Enabling people who want to remain in their own homes to do so is cheaper than placing them in residential care which also shortens life.  They fare better when they are looked after by people who love them.  However the cost of caring is not generally recognised: unpaid carers need adequate financial resources in order to hire reliable and affordable domiciliary support services.  For those caring full-time or living with people suffering from dementia and similarly demanding conditions regular respite is crucial to maintaining their quality of life and that of their loved one.  Helping unpaid carers to care makes sense and is cost-effective from every aspect.  


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