The forgotten workforce: supporting carers’ rights

Every day 6,000 people in the UK become carers, often this is something that has not been planned which leaves individuals feeling unprepared, bewildered and overwhelmed.

The significance of this work cannot be underestimated or dismissed and it’s important that all carers understand their rights and are able to access the support that is needed as soon as possible. 

We’re taking part in Carers Rights Day, an initiative by Carers UK, to reach out to the 6.5 million carers across the country and provide information and support with the aim of making life better for carers.

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in 10 adults in the UK provides unpaid care for a family member or friend who are unable to cope without their help because of illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction.  This translates to a huge number of hours of unpaid work and means that unpaid carers provide social care worth £57 billion a year. This work often has a detrimental effect on the career prospects, mental health and wellbeing of those who care.

To help combat this, ahead of the growing need for unpaid carers and an expanding Health and Social Care workforce, the National Carers Action Plan 2018-20 was set by the government to support the work of carers, recognising that specific actions are needed to change and increase the support and opportunities available to those who care.

The action plan retains the 2008 ‘strategic vision’ that carers will be universally recognised and valued as being fundamental to strong families and stable communities and highlights that carers are everyone’s business, not just those in the Health and Social Care system with emphasis on raising the profile of carers and caring roles.

As well as improvement actions for engaging with carers and for better identification of carers earlier in their caring journey, the plan highlights a focus on employment and financial wellbeing, recognising that currently, though they do have some protection from discrimination under current employment law, there are no dedicated employment rights for carers and caring is not yet a protected characteristic.

The action plan’s one year review provides information about the progress and achievements which have been made since it was first launched, however it is recognised there’s still a long way to ensure carers have the vital support they need.

As part of our efforts to support carers, CACHE Alumni, our free online platform, has many features and resources for carers and those that support them.

For all members, alongside support to access qualifications and employability advice, including a CV builder, CACHE Alumni allows carers to access easy to understand information about legislation and best practice during their time as a carer and can help to keep track of any learning and development as they go. 

You can find out more about Carers Rights Day from Carers UK.