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Access to rights, advice and support for dedicated local carers

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and City of York Council are joining forces to celebrate the work of carers this month as part of national Carers Rights Day (Friday 29 November).

Carers Rights Day aims to support carers by ensuring they have the information and advice they need to claim benefits, access practical support and find out how technology can help make their lives a little easier. This year’s theme is ‘rights, advice, support’, with a focus on ensuring that carers understand their rights and get access to good quality advice that can support them to care.

About one in every 10 of the adult population is an unpaid carer, a figure which is on the increase. Research estimates that they save the economy £119bn every year - around £18,000 per carer.

According to the 2011 Census, there are 18,224 carers in York, but many people who provide care do not recognise themselves as a ‘carer’. Between 2001 and 2011 there has been a 25% increase in the numbers of carers aged 65 and over in York.

Many care for more than one person, or have child care responsibilities on top of their caring role. While caring can be fulfilling and rewarding, it also can place enormous stress on individuals, affecting their physical and mental health and wellbeing and often their finances. People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled.

City of York Council works closely with the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and other health and voluntary sector partners in the city to raise carer awareness and increase support for carers in the city as well as commissioning the York Carers’ Centre to provide support to adults, young adults, and young carers.

York Carers’ Centre provides support to around 3,500 carers; but an audit by NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group showed that only 1,700 people had registered themselves as someone who cares for another person with their GP.

As Britain braces itself for what current long range forecasts predict as “the worst winter in decades” the CCG recognises that partnership working with carer organisations is even more important at this time of year.

NHS Vale of York CCG has worked with GP Practices to create ‘Carer Champions’, who  play a significant part in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people in the local area have access to important information.

Dr Mark Hayes, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Vale of York CCG said: “Along with York Carers’ Centre, York Carers’ Forum and our others partners in North Yorkshire, the Carer’s Champions will be making sure that carers ‘are in the know’ about local events taking place to celebrate Carers’ Rights Day on Friday 29 November.

“This year’s Carers Rights Day aims to raise awareness about the needs of unpaid carers and encourage carers to take up the benefits they are entitled to.

“Local carers work extremely hard; some providing 50 or more hours of care every week. These local events will help this dedicated group of unpaid workers to access practical and technological support.”

Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services, City of York Council, said: “Carers are a vitally important, but often forgotten part of a local community and it’s crucial that we support the invaluable work that they do.

“York’s first Carers’ Charter was formally adopted by the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board in July, underlining the city’s commitment to recognising the work of this diverse and dedicated group, and supporting them in their challenging role.”

For more information on Carers Rights Day visit www.carersuk.org/, or for more information on York Carers’ Centre visit www.yorkcarerscentre.co.uk or call (01904) 715490.

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