They save the NHS thousands of pounds each year, but unpaid carers say they are being treated like ‘second-class citizens’

“All carers, no matter how distressed, are treated sensitively, with empathy and respect”.

Published: 21 September, 2012
by PETER GRUNER

THE borough’s heroic army of unpaid carers is suffering massive levels of stress and distress because of Islington Council’s red tape, bureaucracy and lack of co-ordination, according to a devastating report to the Town Hall this week.

Harrowing evidence of carers, many of them elderly and struggling single-handedly to cope with disabled or mentally ill dependents, is included in a shocking 30-page review of services by Islington Council’s health scrutiny committee.

The carers accused council staff of being “insensitive” and often “brusque, rude and hostile”.

The committee was asked to try to imagine what it must be like for a single carer, usually female, dealing on a 24-hour basis with an irritable autistic or psychotic teenager or a forgetful parent suffering dementia.

In addition, they face long delays before obtaining urgently needed services or simple items such as incontinence pads because carers have to be continually assessed on their level of need and priority.

The committee heard that applying for a parking permit was a “nightmare”, with carers spending hours and even days trying to fill in huge, highly detailed and complicated forms.

Carers maintain the council’s computer system is so uncoordinated that requests have to be made repeatedly.

Their biggest fear is what will become of their dependents after they have died. This is something that needs to be addressed by health authorities so that carers can be confident their dependents will be well looked after, says the report.

One exhausted elderly carer responsible for two middle-aged dependents with learning difficulties said: “We are saving the council and health authorities thousands of pounds each year by looking after our loved ones in our own homes.

Yet we are often treated worse than second-class citizens. Nothing is easy or clear. We have to argue for everything.”

There are an estimated 15,000 carers in the borough.

Labour councillor Martin Klute, who chaired the committee, said he was appalled by the evidence.

The committee has called for an end to excessive bureaucracy, forms to be reduced in size and information to be in clear, plain language, explaining entitlements.

At the same time there should be extra training “for staff to ensure all carers, no matter how distressed, are treated sensitively, with empathy and respect”.

http://www.islingtontribune.com/news/2012/

 

One Response to They save the NHS thousands of pounds each year, but unpaid carers say they are being treated like ‘second-class citizens’

  1. Joy Stanley says:

    it is hard at times but well worth the effort. Our County is ahead of the game in consulting with carers and cared for and we hope to see the benefit of this soon

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