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Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director of Tunstall Healthcare

According to Carers UK, there are an estimated seven million unpaid carers in the UK, which is the equivalent of one in ten people.

With NHS resource becoming increasingly stretched, many older people, or those suddenly finding themselves in need of round-the-clock care, are being cared for at home by loved ones in order to stay living independently. However, this can have a detrimental impact on the mental and physical health of their carer if provisions aren’t adequate.

Whether looking for places to access information or simply someone to chat to, it’s important for carers to understand their rights and what support is available if they need it.

For Carers Rights Day today, here, Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director of provider of connected care and health solutions Tunstall Healthcare, discusses ways that carers can seek support through the services and technology available to them.

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Emotional support

Every day, according to Carers UK, 6,000 people in the UK become carers, a role which is often unplanned and can be extremely demanding and overwhelming. From talking to health and social care providers to dealing with the benefits system or considering how to fund future care costs and juggle employment, it’s no wonder that carers can be left feeling bewildered and stressed.

Various organisations across the UK host events or activities for Carers Rights Day on 21st November to educate people in their community on their rights as a carer and where they can go for support.

As well as seeking support from organisations, calling in help from friends and family will alleviate the pressure on carers and allow them to complete day-to-day tasks, go on holiday or see friends. Depending on how much support is needed, carers may benefit from charity initiatives like befriending services, which can be in the form of a check-in or regular phone call.

Other options include investing in a smartphone or tablet to help the individual living at home to stay connected with friends and family. Not only will this reduce loneliness, it also provides the option for a phone conversation where a physical visit isn’t necessary, freeing up the carer’s time to do other things

To reach out for support or reading material, carers can contact Carers UK which has access to various local events and initiatives.

Physical support

Telecare and telehealth have a vital role to play in supporting carers and the people they care for. Telecare is a system of wireless sensors placed around the home, which immediately detect risks such as fires, floods and falls. As soon as a risk is detected by one of the sensors, an alert is sent to a telecare monitoring centre via a central Lifeline home unit using the phone line or mobile network.

Technology like this offers individuals 24/7 care and gives carers the reassurance they need to be able to take some well-deserved ‘me time’. Carers can feel safe knowing that the person they’re caring for has a means of calling for help when they’re elsewhere via a pager or even during the night by a vibrating pad under their pillow.

Most local authorities offer a telecare service, some free or subsidised, depending on the equipment needed by the individual and whether they qualify. Telecare works best when implemented alongside carer support, so the idea isn’t to replace vital human interaction, more to aid carers struggling to manage the emotional and physical needs of their loved ones.

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