Do you care enough to be a carer?

Do you have the time to be a carer?

Do you have the time to be a carer? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pete Kelley asks if you have time to become a carer and make sure everyone has someone to turn to

This is Carers’ Week, and there’s never been a better time to give a thought to this hidden army of unpaid family members, friends and neighbours – many of whom are feeling the strain even more than the rest of us.

I’ve met a good few of them, over the last few years, on home visits for Age UK Norwich, stoically determined not to ‘make a fuss’ but dealing with the time demands, the huge emotional pressures of the role and the sheer complexity of getting the right advice.

Sound familiar?

Trust me, they are behind closed doors somewhere down your street.


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In fact, a whole raft of up-to-date useful information has been placed on our national charity’s website for carers. Have a look at www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/coronavirus/coronavirus-guidance.

Or if you’re not online, just call 01603 496333. Our city-based advisors are still working, by phone, and want to help.

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Among other topics, I noticed the website looks at the problem of caring for someone from another household, which is obviously very relevant now. Are you allowed to?

The answer – as given on Friday night – is YES.

“If you provide care that requires you to go into someone’s home – perhaps you help them to get out of bed, move around their house, take their medication, or get dressed – then you can carry on doing this.

“But, if you do so, you must ensure you follow simple hygiene steps to protect the person you care for. These include washing your hands when you arrive and often during your visit, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

If you help with a vulnerable person’s someone cleaning, the advice says, you can still do that, too – but maintaining social distancing as well as the hand-washing guidance above.

If you yourself are feeling unwell, and have symptoms of coronavirus, you should not visit, of course.

And if you’re very concerned about someone’s health or welfare, but don’t think it’s an emergency, you can call 111 for the NHS advice, 24 hours a day.

Nobody should have no-one to turn to. That’s been this charity’s motto for years, and I think we can all feel it resonates more and more, today, as we move into a ‘new normal’ in which millions of people are going to be in difficulties not of their own making.

Our carers are just part of a big picture of need - and of a new determination to pull together - which we’re seeing on every Zoom call and street corner, right now, and which I deeply hope will last.

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