More support required for unpaid carers of people living with terminal illness

Section: Policy into PracticeType: News Item Date Published: 5th November 2018

Marie Curie and Macmillan Cancer Support highlight a breakdown in care and unnecessary stress on family and friends taking on a caring role.

The new joint report, ‘Getting it right for carers supporting someone at the end of life’ (this link will take you away from our website), highlights a breakdown in care and unnecessary stress on family and friends taking on a caring role. Told through the first-person accounts of bereaved people, the issue stems from people not being identified as carers, or being identified too late to receive the support they are entitled to.

Carers of terminally ill people can also face a significant impact on their well-being as a terminally ill person’s health can decline rapidly, at short notice, putting an increasing demand on the carer. From April this year, the launch of the Adult Carers Support Plan included in the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 has been an opportunity to identify carers and prepare plans of support. Those caring for someone with a terminal illness, from 2020, will be able to get those plans fast tracked meaning support will be available sooner. The charities highlight that people don’t have time to wait.

Richard Meade, Marie Curie’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scotland said: “Caring for someone with a terminal illness can be all encompassing and too many carers are missing out on the support they need. New Adult Carer Support Plans provide us with a great opportunity to identify earlier family members, friends and neighbours who are caring and to put in place support quickly. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that carers are identified, and we are urging all health and social care practitioners to ask the person who is caring what support they might need.”

Janice Preston, Head of Services for Macmillan in Scotland said: “For the people that are caring for family members it is vital that they are getting the support they need. However, at the moment the current system is a pressure cooker and unless action is taken the consequences will fall heaviest on those carers. The wider health and social care system has a huge role to play in spotting and signposting cancer carers to get the help they need at the most difficult moments of caring.”

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