HEALTH: Making sure carers get the support and recognition they deserve...

THIS week we want to talk about an incredible group of people within our community, who often go about their job tirelessly and without recognition.

We are all being asked to ‘think carer’ this month, and next week marks the start of a week of awareness sessions and information days to help to support those of us caring for a loved one.

In total, there are an estimated 84,000 unpaid carers looking after family and friends in West Sussex.

One in eight people across the county is an unpaid carer, and often they won’t identify themselves as a carer, instead seeing themselves as a mother, father, husband, wife, daughter or son.

Care may be needed for a whole range of reasons – a person may be disabled or have a long-term health condition, they may be older and frail, or they may misuse drugs or alcohol – and a carer’s role can differ greatly from one person to another; it may involve help with day-to-day household tasks, it may be personal care, it may be helping with mobility and transport, or it may be all of those things.

Caring comes naturally and it is what we do when a loved one needs help. But without support and care for the carer, as well as the person being cared for, it can have a significant effect on the carer’s own health and wellbeing. Across West Sussex the NHS is working in partnership with the county council to champion the work of Carers Support West Sussex and encourage people to find out more about the range of support there is available locally.

Events are planned across West Sussex through Carers’ Week from Monday, June 8, to reach out to local people and raise awareness of the local services and support that can help them with their caring role. There are drop-in sessions at carers groups across the county, information places at key places including Worthing Hospital and Sainsbury’s in Littlehampton, and coffee and cake sessions.

A full local events programme can be found at www.carerssupport.org.uk

Across the NHS we absolutely value the incredible work that carers do across our communities to look after, and care for, their loved ones.

Everyone who cares for someone has such a vital role and we want to make sure that carers are all supported and cared for as well, so if you are a carer and you aren’t currently receiving local support please visit an event next week or call Carers Support West Sussex on 0300 028 8888 to find out more.

• NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group