• Suzanne Bourne

Listening to unpaid carers during Covid-19

It has never been more important to listen to unpaid carers, to understand what is important for them and find out what support they need. There are nearly 9 million people in the UK who are looking after someone and having to quickly adjust to the change and uncertainty that comes with Covid-19.

At Mobilise we have been listening in as many ways as possible. In 1-1 calls, chatting to carers in our virtual cuppas and diving in to conversations on social media. We always have a quick poll on the go so we can capture how people are doing, what the big priorities are and what they are finding helpful. So what have we learnt so far?

Carers who already had many daily challenges are now faced with big change and new struggles. Government, supermarkets, media and the general public just don't seem to recognise the impact that Covid-19 is having on them and the importance of this hidden army in supporting the vulnerable people they are caring for.

What are the big challenges for carers?

  • Keeping them and their loved ones safe and protected from Covid-19 whilst managing day to day practicalities like getting shopping and prescriptions.

  • Taking on more caring responsibilities: They may now be caring for additional people and paid carers may no longer be available or be too much of a risk to bring into the household. Doing this without access to PPE and other basic supplies.

  • Making big decisions about continuing to work or care for loved ones. Or having to do both and put vulnerable people at risk.

  • Losing vital support from their existing networks that have had to shutdown.

  • Fear of what will happen if something happens to them - who will step in and help?

  • Not being able to see their loved ones who are in care homes, hospital or isolating at home.

What are the solutions?

Carers are a creative and resilient bunch - they will use everything in their toolkit and continue to add more whilst sharing their learning. Carers are also used to being independent and self-reliant, normally the first to jump and help others too. They need connection with others in the same situation as them, sharing experiences and supporting one another.

Carers want solutions that are easy to access and allow them to continue to stay in control. They want clear information that is easy to find, not hidden on a website and not dependent on ringing when they need help or are at crisis point. Imagine too how it must feel to ask for help and be dependent on volunteers in the community.

Unpaid carers need to be included in the narrative about supporting and protecting vulnerable people - it is often them doing the shopping, collecting prescriptions and arranging support. Anxiety about the unknown is often worse than having to tackle the actual problem when it arises.

What can we all do?

I'd like to hope that government, social care, the media and supermarkets will start thinking and talking about unpaid carers. It also starts with us as individuals - remember these unpaid and often hidden carers, think about who you know that is looking after someone - in your family, at work, friends and communities. Keep in touch and keep asking what you can do to help and make sure they have your contact details for when they do need help. Remember them in your Thursday "Clap for Carers"

How can you help Mobilise to support carers?

Mobilise are well set up to support carers in this new virtual world - it is what we do! Our daily carers e-support package, our virtual cuppas and our 1-1 coaching calls are being well received by carers....we just need to reach more of them. We promise to continue listening to carers and to grow what we are doing to meet their changing needs over the coming months. Please help to spread the word and connect us with more carers.

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