Carers are people who provide support to others, whether they are friends, relatives or neighbours. Anyone can become a Carer at any point in their life.
People receive care for many and varied reasons, including;
- Serious physical illness
- Long-term physical disability
- Long-term neurological conditions
- Mental health problems
- Learning difficulties
(Each carer’s experience is unique to their own circumstances)
Carers have a range of roles regarding safeguarding – they can be the person who raises the concern, be vulnerable to harm and abuse themselves, or they can be abusers.
Carers may be involved in situations that require a safeguarding response, including:
- witnessing or speaking up about abuse or neglect
- experiencing intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are trying to support or from professionals or organisations they are in contact with
- unintentionally or intentionally harming or neglecting the adult they support on their own or with others
Unpaid or Informal Carers
An unpaid or informal carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
Someone in their seventies who cares 24/7 for their spouse with severe dementia is a carer. A teenager who offers emotional support and helps to keep the household running as and when the fluctuating nature of their parent’s mental health requires it – is also a carer. The two situations are very different, but both are examples of the 7 million carers in the UK today. Carers Trust.
Many people do not see themselves as a carer, but they have a vital and important role in providing person centred care and often they will know the ‘cared for’ person better than anyone else.
Professionals should work with carers to ensure they have a full picture, that carers are consulted and involved in decisions as far as is reasonably practical and that their contribution to supporting and keeping the cared for person safe is recognised and promoted. The Stephen Learning Briefing – Information for Carers highlights more information regarding Carer’s rights and how carers should be involved and consulted with in planning and delivery of care.
Risk of abuse to Carers
Research has found that the risk of abuse to carers themselves increase when the following incidents occur:
- The carer is isolated
- The carer lacks access to practical and /or emotional support from family, friends or professionals.
Carers can also be at increased risk of abuse from the people they care for, when the cared for:
- has health and care needs that exceed the carer’s ability to meet them
- does not consider the needs of the carer or family members
- treats the carer with a lack or respect or courtesy
- declines help and support from external services
- insists on being supported 24/7
- exerts control over financial resources, property and living arrangements
- is aggressive or displays frightening behaviours
- has a history of substance misuse, unusual or offensive behaviours
- does not understand their actions and their impact on the carer
- is angry about their situation and seeks to punish others for it
- does not meet the criteria for support, after reaching out to services
Risk from Carers to those they care for
There is a risk of harmful behaviour, or neglect, whether intended or not, that carers could pose to the person they are caring for. These risks tend to be greater where the carer:
- has unmet or unrecognised needs of their own
- are themselves vulnerable
- has limited understanding of the carers persons condition or needs
- are being abused by the person
- feels unappreciated by the person or exploited by relatives or by services
- are feeling emotionally and socially isolated, and has no personal space or life outside the caring environment
It is vital that Carers and those they care for, have access to timely advice, information and support, including robust assessments and care and support planning. Each local Council in Tees has a dedicated webpage for carers and those supporting them, these webpages, can be found at the bottom of this page.
A carer’s assessment is for carers over 18 years old who are looking after another adult over 18 years old who is disabled, ill or elderly. It is an opportunity to record the impact of caring and what support or services are required to help make life easier as a carer. However, sometimes the support can be as simple as having a chat to understand from the carer how they are feeling and the support they require.
Any carer who appears to have needs for support can have an assessment which will be carried out by the local council.
If you provide care for an adult and think you may qualify for assistance, you can request a Carers’ Assessment by contacting your local Adult Social Care Team, details can be found at the bottom of the page.
The Herbert Protocol
The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme adopted by police services and local authorities across the country.
It encourages carers, families, friends or neighbours, to hold useful information about a vulnerable person with dementia that can help the police find them if the person goes missing.
The basis of the scheme is for vital information about the person such as medication, description, mobile number, photograph, significant places in the person’s life and their daily routine, to be recorded on a form.
Find more information and complete the Herbert Protocol form via Cleveland Police.
The Open Dementia e-learning Programme is aimed at anyone who comes into contact with someone with dementia and provides a general introduction to the disease and the experience of living with it. This programme is designed to be accessible to a wide audience and includes a considerable amount of video footage shot by both the Alzheimer’s Society and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) where people with dementia and their carers share their views and feelings on camera. E-Learning
Sources of Support and Advice
Carers UK Adviceline 0808 808 7777