Making the case for carers

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Ok so the jury's still out on our poll about paying for social care....even-stevens on the voting.

I've been thinking about this, forget the 10-year vision stuff for a moment, and concentrate on today and next week...Gordon Brown's first days in power....he's got thousands of campaigns from all sorts of organisations on his desk. How do we make the case for carers? I know the facts and the figures, I work for Carers UK but how do you convince a politician -nationally or locally to invest in carers?

Any thoughts/ ideas? Who's had success out there - I know a number of areas have succeeded in getting the Carers Grant funded beyond 2008. What did you do? What worked?

I'd like to hear people's views
Q. How do you eat an elephant?
A: One chunk at a time!

The approach that has worked best in the past is to focus on a few relatively small - but important - issues of principle where justice is clearly being denied, then hammer them home through collective action until it hurts those in power so much that they grant the concession. It's not going to solve all the ills, but it does work. there are too many successful examples to quote here, but the right to request flexible p/t working for parents of kids with a disability is one such.
I agree absolutely with Excalibur.

The small steps approach can be frustratingly slow, but it is far more certain than any other technique. In our area 20 years ago there was no provision for people with autism (any age). 10 years later, some 300 people were receiving some form of specialist support. Now we're into the thousand. But it started with specialist support for 3 children. And a lot of campaigning and negotiation. There still isn't enough, and too many still lose out - but it is better overall than it was.

The problem is that most people are not aware of what is going on, and so CUK, PRTC and others are seen as inactive. Campaigns need to be "out there" among members and constantly updated on the forum, for example - asking for input, suggestions and reporting back on results/responses. etc. I know that CUK does this to some extent, but it is not as clear as it needs to be: think in terms of hearts and minds - the need to take carers with you.

Please don't see this as critical - I'm aware that it's not always possible to let people know of success until it finally sees the light of day in parliament, for example, but if negotiations are going on...let us know. If you need evidence for a particular campaign...let us know.
Gordon Brown-being the guy who has held the purse strings for so long-I think the strategy should be to convince him that any investment in carers now will be a massive saving to the Country.

With all the cut backs in services. and the paltry level of CA, coupled with the unfair overlapping rule, many carers are feeling they are unable or even unwilling to carry on.
This is not only about existing carers, but the many thousands it has been forecast will be needed in the not too distant future.

If even a small proportion of the 6 million carers found it impossible to carry on, the NHS and SS and all carer services would very soon be in melt down. Not only would they be having to cope with our carees , but also with carers who are worn out by past caring duty.

Small steps are fine-but the occasional big jump is good for the circulation and the feel-good factor. Image
i no this will sound lame. But charls 47 is right. I have been a carer without any help for the last 11 years i did not even no you could get ca until we got the net & i started looking. we need info to be made more ready avalible. where what & how . im shore there is a lot i still dont now about.? things need sorting..
I'm with Charles and Chris on this, we do need more information out there - I've found out more in the last 5 years that I did in the previous 15 of caring and I'm still learning.

There must still be thousands out there struggling to cope financially and emotionally not knowing there is help - that's got to be the way forward.

Don't get me wrong folks - I'd love to see bigger steps, like ken.

But our problem is that carers are not a "sexy" cause. Firstly because unless you've been a carer it's hard to understand what it's like, partly because (and I mean no offence to anyone over this) the media circus likes to follow up on situations that require little imagination - such as poor Madeleine and her parents, the tsunami of a couple of years ago: dramatic stuff grabs the headlines. There is nothing dramatic about changing a parent's underwear.

So most of the time we have to nibble away at the smaller stuff and get gradual change. Mind you, the good thing about gradual change is that, very often, the change is barely noticed and becomes a firm habit, making the next change easier...the example I gave earlier about autism provision in our area came about from discussion about one 10 place primary school specialist autism unit in 1988. Because that was all the local authority thought was needed. We knew differently but let them go on thinking that, and then pointed out that those children would need secondary school provision. And that there were other children who needed some support but not the full-blown unit. They agreed, over a period of about 4 years. Then the numbers being diagnosed shot through the roof because - as some professionals admitted - diagnosis had been withheld because there were no services. Then the demand increased and the whole strategy had to be looked at again - but this time with parents fully involved as partners. Where before we had to write to councillors because the officers wouldn't talk to us 20 years ago, the officers come to parents automatically.

This can happen for all of us. But it takes time to change attitudes. 30 years ago we talked about mongolism and spastics. Now we talk about Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.
Thanks for those comments Charles, really appreciate people's suggestions.

I know it must feel like carers aren't listened to but there are some opportunities -

CARERS WEEK- with over 1000 local groups organising over 6000 events, its firmly in the diary of councils and social services. Many areas like the one I went to today in Bolton, have organised 'carers challenge' inviting the MP, councillors, and lead officers to go into a carers home and meet the carer and see 1st hand what its like to be a carer.

NEW CARERS STRATEGY - Ann McGuire the Minister for Disabled people came to our 1st consultation event last week - she really took on board what carers were saying about benefits system, lack of support, cuts, direct payments. She also promised that the Strategy would look long and hard at the benefits system and hopes to come up with something more suitable which acknowledges enormous burden carers

She invited carers to put their views forward- and encouraged 'radical thinking'! I think the Goverment are expected to make an official announcement this week but you can also have your say at][/url]

And just to show how much you are making an impact on Government, Ivan Lewis MP the minister for Carers took part in a debate on carers in the House of Parliament last night and acknowledged that carers "frustration and anger at the system must be a wake-up call to us all." So keep up the good work - nothing radical happens overnight, but as Charles said if we chip away things are possible...

If anyone else has any examples of things changing for carers services as a result of their action please let us know.

Cheers - have a good Carers Week!
How about carersuk arranging with a carer for a TV crew to spend a period of time with someone who carers for someone twenty four seven, actually see what carers do day today, how they cannot cope with their finances etc, see what they actually have to give up in life, whenever they do a documentary about care home abuse on TV that gets quite a huge response, its just a thought Image

Tonyxx Image