The clinical lead for the Isle of Man’s psycho onchology service Professor Robin Davidson has referred to the rise in the number of people dependent on others for care in the future as a ‘demographic time bomb.’
Professor Davidson was speaking at Crossroads Care’s Prepare to Care conference when he illustrated the emotional and psychological demands experienced by carers.
Sponsored by Celton Manx the conference, held on September 18th at the Villa Marina, took as its central theme the stark message that, in the words of Crossroads Care’s chief executive Jackie Betteridge, ‘Three out of five people will become a carer at some point in their lives.
‘None of us expects to be a carer or to be cared for,’ said Mrs Betteridge, adding that most often caring ‘tends to be about the cared for, not the carer. Crossroads Care understands how difficult the world can be for carers.’ The time had come, she explained, ‘to make plans to prepare to care.’
In his opening address Celton Manx executive director Bill Mummery praised the work of Crossroads Care and said that caring for someone had been likened to an ‘unspoken gift’.
Mr Mummery went on to say Celton Manx was pleased to lend support to the conference in order to lend visibility to the charity’s campaign and help the voice of carers – who numbered some 10,000 in the Isle of Man – be heard. He concluded: ‘This is a community problem that demands a community response.’
The conference also served as the occasion for the third sector forum’s David Gawne to launch the Carer’s Charter, a document drawn up by Crossroads with public and third sector support that sought to recognise the contribution of carers, define their rights and set out the community’s responsibility to caregivers.
Mr Gawne explained the charter was a multi-agency agreement ‘owned by all of us, as a nation and as a community’. Signatories to date were the departments of Health, Social Care and Education and Children, Crossroads Care, Manx Cancer Help and Live at Home, with more to follow from a cross section of the private, public and voluntary sector. The charter’s success would be assured, said Mr Gawne, ‘If we all work together.’
Guest speaker Professor Davidson spoke of the importance of identifying and responding to ‘the burden of caring’ experienced by the ‘silent army’ of unpaid and largely unrecognised women, men and, increasingly, young adults. He called for a change in attitude by the ‘baby boomer generation’ of the 1950s and 60s who saw their ageing parents as ‘immortal and invincible’ and who firmly believed ‘science and hospitals could solve everything.’
He illustrated examples of extremes of caring, outlined predictors of carers’ distress and told his audience that the 2011 UK census revealed 5.8 million people were providing some level of unpaid care and that by 2030 ‘200,000 elderly will be without the care they need.’ He concluded by offering practical tips for carers and closed with the advice: ‘Don’t try to be Superwoman or Superman.’
Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw closed the conference by saying the time was right to work towards a deeper understanding of carers’ needs ‘because the world has changed’ and that he believed the role of carers in the future would be ‘crucial.’
The Carers’ Charter can be viewed and downloaded at crossroadsiom.org