Carers in Salford have aired their struggles in dealing with a lack of support while caring for family members.
Figures from a recent review conducted by the Carers Trust show only 21% of unpaid carers feel that things have improved for them as a result of the Care Act that was implemented in 2015.
Gail Scott-Spicer, CEO of Carers Trust, said: “The Care Act was widely welcomed when it was introduced, but it’s clear from our report that it is not being implemented fully everywhere and carers are not getting the support they need.”
Sources say the many of the 300,000 unpaid carers across Greater Manchester are still being left to struggle alone when they could be entitled to more support.
SalfordOnline.com visited the Time Out For Carers group, a self-run carers’ support group who meet weekly on Wednesdays, 12.15pm to 3.15pm at the Emmanuel Centre on Langworthy Road.
They told us that both the cared-for and the carers are suffering due to a lack of support.
Chair Joan Dickinson said: “I have told my local GP that I am a carer, yet I have been back since and they aren’t aware.
“I need to be physically well in order to care, and I need the support of my doctor and the council to do that.”
She added: “The things that have happened to me have made me compassionate.
“If nobody can help me, I’ll help other people.”
One carer gave us an insight into what is involved in being a full-time unpaid carer.
For the past two years Betty Taylor has been caring for her husband after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
She said: “I have to wash and dress him, we have to study where we can go and how we can get there, we can’t use the bus because of the wheelchair.
“There is a lack of information about what comes next for us. We don’t know what to expect.”
Jean Elliot, Treasurer of the group, said: “My husband had a heart attack and as a result of that he suffered from brain damage.
“He was paralysed and couldn’t see. It was a living hell for the both of us.
It’s at this point that the support network should kick in.
But many are left feeling alone, and groups like Time Out for Carers become their lifeline.
Numerous surveys have been filled in by the groups of carers, yet many feel the questions are offensive.
Betty added: “They make you feel responsible for having the disease or having to look after someone with the disease. It’s very frustrating.
One member of the group added that carers should be able to access more counselling than what is currently available, but it is difficult because nobody is held accountable for them.
Barbara Keeley MP, who represents carer’s rights in Parliament, said: “The Care Act was supposed to put carers on an equal footing with those they care for.
“It placed a duty on Local Authorities to provide assessments and support for carers.
“I am very concerned that carers in Salford are not benefiting from the Care Act and that many feel they are left to cope on their own with little or no support.”
Paul Parlby, Greater Manchester Chief Executive at Carers Trust, said: “We all know how important it is to keep carers caring, and how much carers save the economy and local economy, yet funding for carers services is reducing year on year.”
Time Out For Carers help the carers deal with the stress of day-to-day life through therapy, trips and respite.
But they are being severely hamstrung by a lack of funding, Barbara Keeley says.
“In the last Parliament, local councils have had to cope with a 40% real terms reduction in core government grants. This means that councils are struggling for the resources to implement the new duties in the Care Act.
“The chronic underfunding of social care and Conservative Government cuts to local authority budgets mean that councils are struggling to fund services to meet immediate needs for care and support.
Barbara Keeley added that the government could do much more to improve the lives of Salford’s unpaid carers.
In her constituency of Worsley and Eccles South there are at least 10,000 unpaid family carers.
“It is essential that they are recognised as having their own specific needs so that they can receive the help and support they deserve.
“As well as helping local authorities to provide support, it is crucial that the Government ensures that more is done to identify carers.
“I am calling on Ministers to place a duty on GPs and NHS bodies to identify carers so that they can be referred for advice and support.”
For more information on Time Out for Carers or to join the friendly group please call Joan on 0161 737 2875 or Jean on 0161 727 8406, or join them at the drop-in session every Wednesday at the Emmanuel Church and Community Centre, Langworthy Road, Salford M6 5PN.
For a full list of contacts and support groups for carers in Salford take a look at this PDF complied by Salford CVS.
Other groups run by carers themselves in Salford include
Claremont and Weaste Carers Support Group
For carers who live in the Claremont and Weaste area of the city. Held at
Meet 11am – 2.30pm on second Thursday of every month.
Contact Stella Bailey 0161 736 6950.
Irlam and Cadishead Carers Support Group
For carers and former carers who live in Irlam, Cadishead & Eccles.
St Marys Church Hall, Penry Avenue, Cadishead, M44 5ZE
Meet 11am – 1pm on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month
Contact Jean Dodd 0161 775 9125
Lower Kersal and Charlestown Carers Group
For carers who live in Lower Kersal and Charlestown
Pendleton Gateway, 1 Broadwalk, Salford M6 5FX
Meets 10.30am -12.30pm every Tuesday
Contact Ann Johnson 0161 288 9654 / 07502 368 952
Salford Stroke Club
For people who have had a stroke, their carers and friends.
Meet 7.30pm – 10pm, 1st Tuesday of every month.
Contact Mrs Vivienne Barlow 0161 789 3811
YANA, You are not alone group
Social group for over 60. For those bereaved, lonely, finding it hard to cope or want company. All carers welcome.
Meets 10am – 1pm every Thursday. Rainbow Community Centre, 275 Liverpool Road, Patricroft, Eccles M30 0QN.
Contact Anne Pearson 0161 787 8990