COLUMN: ‘We need to take care of our carers’

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Caring for a family member or friend is an important role which will fall to three in five of us at some time during our lives.

With an estimated 118,000 unpaid carers in Derbyshire, that’s more than one in ten of us whose loved ones simply couldn’t manage without our help and support.

Last year a report was published for Carers Week 2016, where findings provided an invaluable insight into the problems faced by carers. It also promoted the idea of building carer friendly communities where carers feel supported to look after their family and friends, but are also recognised as individuals with needs of their own.

Three in four carers didn’t feel their role was understood and valued by their community, 51 per cent have let a health problem go untreated, 72 per cent have given up work or reduced their hours, and 31 per cent only get help when it is an emergency.

Working in a community pharmacy means we often get to know the people who come in and learn who looks after who by seeing the prescription they bring in or collect. In day-to-day interactions we get a feel for how they are coping and are able to offer advice and support where needed. These are our opportunities to try to spot if the carer is being affected by the stresses and strains of their responsibilities which may be beginning to wear them down and affect their health.

A key part of what community pharmacy does for these carers or the person they care for is signposting. Whilst we can help answer queries on medication, or provide healthy living advice, other community agencies have a vital role to play. In particular, local authorities which provide key public services and support for carers.

With this in mind Community Pharmacy Derbyshire is working closely with adult care at Derbyshire County Council to provide community pharmacies with carer information packs and contact details that can be given to carers to support them in their role. The council has recently made changes to the way support for carers in Derbyshire is delivered including commissioning a new support service for both adult and young carers.

Caring is not an easy job, and can be stressful and have a negative impact on the carer. Therefore, it’s vital that the carer looks after their personal health and well-being.

Community pharmacy can help to support this in these ever changing and challenging times. If we can care for the carer then we can support the development of the Carer Friendly Communities we would all wish to be a part of.

For more information visit: www.carersweek.org for more information.