By Matt Harris – Former unpaid carer trying to make a difference. Sign his petition here.
Who am I? I’m a nobody. If it wasn’t for friends and family, I would just be a statistic. Starved out by the system that I also have paid into.
I’m just an every man.
No one exceptional, just a nobody who looked after my mum to the best of my ability. A nobody who after seven-years of caring in what at times could be considered extreme circumstances still battles to this day with mental health issues that could be described as PTSD. A nobody plunged into poverty despite my mum selling her house for her care and myself Providing most of it one way or another.
Just a nobody that never got to take a break from the relentless merry go round we call life who would love nothing more than to get away from it all and just breath. Just a nobody with nothing to gain from trying to prevent what is happening to myself, happening to anyone else. A nobody that has been at the receiving end of cuts, poor policies, the negative side of zero-hours cuts and in quite a surprising way austerity.
There are so many injustices happening in our country and throughout the social and care sector. Good people working hard to take care of your loved ones are working on or below the minimum wage. Nurses working all hour’s doing what is an extremely difficult and stressful job are queueing at food banks, veterans with PTSD are being let down on their return from fighting for Queen and Country are living on our streets. Carers are working all hours to either rush from job to job, getting those that they are sent to care for to get up showered and dressed at breakneck speed or risk living in poverty. Carers in Private Nursing homes generally getting paid next to nothing to do what is a heart-breaking job. Unpaid carers covering the cracks of the flaws in the system are living below the poverty line.
What an unpaid carer does is altruistic. Putting themselves and their own wealth, health and well-being second to provide the best possible care possible for the betterment of the loved ones that they care for. They go above and beyond providing physio, personal care, nutrition, Companionship. This, in turn, prevents sores, infections, falls. Preventing calls being made to the emergency services and admittance into Hospital for falls, sores and infections that could have been avoided if their loved ones could afford to care.
Paying Unpaid carers an allowance equivalent to a fulltime job at the National Living wage would make it affordable for family members to look after their own. Paying unpaid carers is just part of the solution. Lifting the financial burden and stress from some very hard working, tired individuals that as a rule have daily routines that are quite unimaginable, whilst also saving the taxpayer money. We spend so much money fixing people and finding cures but no thought has been given to what to do after?
I write this having nothing to gain, I am no longer a carer. I no longer have a family or someone who cares for me but what I have witnessed and experienced genuinely scares me and unless you are a multi-millionaire this should scare you too.
If we make care whenever possible, person-centred this can be achieved, with measures in place to support the unpaid carer to do their job.
If we get the very foundations of social care right, the benefits will be felt not only in society but throughout all aspects of the care and public sector including the Emergency services and the NHS.
I often hear statements like “we agree whole heartedly, but how can we afford to do this?”
The answer is this, we seem to bear the cost of reactive care but preventative would save us money, in a very short time there would be a noticeable difference that will be felt throughout the social care sector. The simplest of answers is how can we afford not to?
One in four of us will go on to develop Dementia of some kind, 1 in 2 of us will develop Cancer.
Life Changing incidents and accidents happen daily, life is fragile. If we have hundreds of millions to pay a company to lie, cheat and disprove the integrity of the disabled in this country and we have a billion to buy support of a political party or fifty million for ferry crossings on ships that don’t exist, then there is obviously money that instead of being misspent could be used for the betterment of those that are unpaid carers and the loved ones they support.
The money these carers receive would be spent locally, boosting the local economy. Providing at least financial peace of mind. This could also be made for pensioners to provide an income in their retirement instead of working if one of them needs care and support. As for child carers, perhaps a trust fund could be set up to pay for further education or a little help to start life.
The current system is failing so we know that big Business and privatisation is not the answer.
Paying Unpaid carers along with other measures in place would be building a proper foundation in our Social care system and the benefits would be felt throughout. If you have a moment, please sign and share. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/234864
Who am I? I’m just a nobody.