Who is a carer?
A carer is considered to be anyone who spends time looking after or helping a family member, friend or neighbour who, because of their health and care needs, would find it difficult to cope without this help regardless of age or whether they identify as a carer. One in ten people are known to be carers in Greater Manchester, yet there are many more who are unknown.
There are about 280,000 unpaid carers in Greater Manchester including children and young people caring for parents with long-term health conditions, working carers, parent carers and others. Carers improve the wellbeing of the people they care for and help reduce the demand on a range of local authority and NHS funded services. Together, they make up a vital part of our health and care system.
As well as supporting the people they care for, carers themselves have many needs of their own, not all of which are being met to the same standards within Greater Manchester. Being an unpaid carer can have an impact on a person’s wellbeing and even their ability to access health services. It can have a financial cost or limit their earning potential. It also impacts on relationships, including the time commitment of caring or changes to the relationship for those they care for.
As a carer in Greater Manchester you should be able to expect the following:
- To be identified as a carer as early as possible
- Better access to annual health checks and improved access to GP appointments
- Access to services and activities to help stay fit and healthy
- To be supported in employment
- To be involved with employers in developing carers policies and for staff to be trained to be “carer aware”
- If you are a young carer or young adult carer, you are able to thrive and develop educationally
NHS Greater Manchester and previous organisations prior to our formation have both a Carers Charter and a Carers Committment to to improve how carers are supported in their invaluable role. You can view these documents below (note the branding needs to be updated).
Who is a working carer?
A working carer is someone in full or part-time employment, who also provides unpaid support, or who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their age, physical or mental illness, disability or addiction.
Carers may struggle to balance these responsibilities with their work commitments. Helping carers and employers understand their rights and workplace responsibilities is important. Better support in the workplace benefits both carers and employers.
The Greater Manchester Working Carer Toolkit, designed with carers, supports the commitment in our Carers Charter to be supported in fulfilling educational and employment potential, and where possible in maintaining employment. The toolkit has been designed to help all Greater Manchester employers support their working carers.
Who is a parent carer?
Parent carers provide support to their children, including grown up children who could not manage without their help. Their child of any age may be ill, disabled, or have mental health or substance misuse problems.
Although being a parent is always the first and most important relationship parent carers will have with their children, it’s also important that they’re recognised as carers and are provided with additional practical and emotional support. By identifying as a parent carer, parent carers are more likely to seek and be offered support.
Some people, including some professionals, may be less likely to recognise parent carers so our Parent Carer Standards set out our commitment to meet their needs and improve best practice.
Emergency planning as a carer
Being prepared for emergencies is always a good idea as a carer. It helps to think about things like which family members, friends and neighbours could help in an emergency.
An emergency plan is a really useful document where you put all the information about your caring role in one place. So should you become unwell yourself, or be unable to care for whatever reason, it’s clear exactly what needs to be done if somebody else needs to take over. Having a plan can also help you feel less worried.
We advise all carers to create an emergency plan – for you and all those you look after.
Our emergency and contingency planning document shares information on emergency card and planning schemes across Greater Manchester. National charities also have some blank templates on their websites which can be used.
*Please note that this document is on our old branding and this will be changed when it is next updated.
Engaging Carers from Ethnic Minority Communities
Carers exist in every community in our region. They can be every age, gender and ethnicity. Across Greater Manchester one of our greatest challenges is engaging carers from ethnic minority communities and supporting them to identify as carers. Professionals who specialise in speaking to carers who are reluctant to identify as a carer collaborated on this ‘best practice’ guide. It is designed to help professionals and volunteers be creative in engaging and supporting these individuals.