Concern after more than half of Hampshire carers unaware of their right to get support
A HEALTH watchdog has been left concerned at the lack of knowledge carers have to their rights to get support.
More than half of unpaid carers told Healthwatch Hampshire they didn’t know what a carers assessments was and were unaware of the help available to them while 38 per cent had been unable to get an assessment.
The health organisation is determined to raise awareness.
Claudine Weeks from HH said: ‘I don’t think we were expecting to see the lack of knowledge about their rights and what support they can get.
‘I think part of that is these people became carers during lockdown. One of our main aims for next year is to start a piece of work to really raise awareness of carers’ rights and the support they can get.’
Healthwatch Hampshire undertook a survey of almost 200 carers to find out their experiences of caring for a loved one at home during the pandemic.
Many carers shared stories about the issues they faced with 73 per cent saying their mental health had been affected.
One said: ‘The pressure that carers are under is just immense, I can just describe it as I felt like I’d got to a point where I felt like I was being submerged in water and I got to a point where I couldn’t breathe any more, suddenly I was allowed to come up and get a gasp of air and then I would literally start again.’
The survey also revealed that 70 per cent of carers had not been able to access a break during the pandemic, 71 per cent saw an increase in the number of hours they spent caring and 60 per cent saw a negative impact on their physical health.
One carer said: ‘My son really struggled to understand why his life could become one of being locked inside 24/7. Suddenly he was not seeing his loved ones, not going to school or having his daily therapies and this led my son to deteriorate mentally and physically. I would see him sitting putting his face in his hands and gently crying.
‘He kept saying sorry to me over and over again and it broke my heart that he believed the reason he was not able to go to school was because he’d done something wrong.’
Those who answered the survey also said that friends, family and virtual support from other carers was a lifeline during the lockdown while 42 per cent said their GP was helpful when it came to getting help and support.
Claudine added: ‘We also want to look at those services and GPs that have been really supportive and identify good practice that can be shared with others.’