By the Tonic UK Team
As a healthcare communications agency we are dedicated to supporting the patient community, and working to improve the lives of patients and their families. But the work we do often extends to carers as well, who have a vital role in the care of patients.
This week is national Carers Week in the UK – an annual campaign dedicated to supporting the millions of unpaid carers across the country who look after a parent, child, partner or friend with a disability or illness, or who need age-related support.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges carers face, recognise the contribution they make and share ways to connect and support carers, so they can stay healthy and connected.
Healthy and Connected is the theme for this year’s campaign to highlight the importance of the health and welfare of carers.
Carers Week aims to shine a spotlight on the needs of carers both within the community, in the workplace, in schools and across health services. The goal of this week is to advocate for carers to get the practical help they need such as flexible working hours and remote working. Sadly, 72% of carers have to give up work to care for their loved one, so flexibility in the workplace is crucial to help reduce this trend.
What does this mean for our industry?
Pharmaceutical companies work closely with patient organisations to support and better understand the needs of the patients they work to treat, and some are now launching new initiatives to gain more knowledge about the growing carer community. Last year Merck carried out an international survey of 3,500 carers to uncover the everyday challenges that carers face in looking after their loved one. The research found that 47% of carers had feelings of depression, while 54% did not have time to attend their own doctors’ appointments. It also found that a concerning 55% of responding carers felt that their own physical health had suffered. Merck said the results speak for themselves, and have since launched an initiative called Embracing Carers, which strives for increased awareness and support for the carer network worldwide.
A Government report from last year found that 25% of carers had not had a day off in over five years. Ministers state they are now looking at a new action plan to improve carer provisions as part of the UK’s social care strategy.
More needs to be done to recognise and support this invisible army.
Carers across the UK – Fast Facts (from Carers Trust)
- There are around 7 million carers in the UK – that is one in ten people.
- Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives in the UK.
- Out of the UK’s carers, 42% of carers are men and 58% are women.
- The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £132bn a year.
- By 2030, the number of carers will increase by 3.4 million (around 60%).