Yes it is! There is no doubt that Carers' Week, which took place between 13 and 19 June, did a lot to raise awareness of the vital services provided by non-professional carers. But it would be doing a disservice if we all just ticked that off our calendar, and moved on to the next "Week" – Fall Prevention, as it happens. For anyone who is caring for a partner, child, parent, friend or relative who cannot manage without their support, every week is carer's week; a week when they are committed to long hours of caring responsibilities, often with very little by way of help or respite.
The money saved by the NHS and social services annually is now estimated at £119 billion, considerably more than the total NHS budget for England (£106 billion). It was £87 billion when I started tracking the statistics, and I have no doubt that it will continue to rise, as will the number of people involved - currently about six and a half million - as the mighty cohort of baby boomers succumb to the diseases and impairments of old age, and the funds available to pay for their care needs to be met by professionals are stretched ever more thinly.
Community Care, the social care journal, set up a "Carers Wall"
Please click on link for Carers Wall where people could identify one thing that would make their life as a carer easier. It makes for sobering reading, as many of the requests are really for acknowledgement and respect. Fear of future cuts, failure of respite care, agency carers arriving late and leaving early, all feature regularly as problems that are making life harder.
Money is clearly important, to the extent that not having sufficient resources to provide a bit of respite for the carer will make their burden intolerable eventually, but a great deal can be achieved without big cost implications. If services really were joined up, for example, so that people didn't have to explain the same thing over and over again. If carers were listened to by professionals as the experts they really are in caring for their charge. If essential pieces of equipment were provided in a timely way, without the need to fight for them. If it's a pretty big little word.
There is an area on Independent Living dedicated to providing information to help carers:
Please click on link to go to the carers area of the Independent Living site