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Ashgate Hospice > Empowering caregivers: recognising and upholding carers’ rights – by Lorraine Hall, Sarah Kerry and Heather Aitken
This blog post by Lorraine Hall, Psychosocial Services Manager at Ashgate Hospice, Sarah Kerry, Day Services Manager at Ashgate Hospice, and Heather Aitken, Carer Support Worker at Derbyshire Carers Association.

Carers Rights Day, marked this year on Thursday 23rd November, serves as a poignant reminder of the invaluable contribution made by caregivers to society. These unsung heroes dedicate their time and energy to support individuals facing health challenges, disabilities, or aging.

According to Carers UK, unpaid carers in England and Wales contribute a staggering £445 million to the economy in England and Wales every day – that’s £193 billion per year. This is roughly equivalent to the budget for the NHS health service in England and Wales.

In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of Carers Rights Day, shedding light on the rights that caregivers are entitled to in their crucial role. We also explore the support available in North Derbyshire, both from Ashgate Hospice and Derbyshire Carers Association.

Understanding the role of caregivers

Caregivers play a pivotal role in supporting those in need, often at the expense of their own wellbeing and needs. Whether caring for a family member or friend, their responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks, from assisting with daily activities to providing emotional support.

Carers will often care for more than one person, and can be partners, siblings, children, parents or friends helping someone they love or care about. Three in five of us will become a carer at some point in our lives, either on a temporary or long-term basis.

Carers contribute significantly to the healthcare system, and it is important to recognise and respect their rights.

The impacts of caring

Caring responsibilities can impact carers in many ways. Figures from Carers UK (2023) tell us:

  • Caring can affect work or retirement aspirations, and lead to reduced hours or leaving employment altogether. 75% of carers worry about continuing to juggle work and care.
  • 41% say they have not been able to take any time away from caring in the last year.
  • Over a quarter of carers feel socially isolated and lonely.
  • 84% of carers whose mental health is bad or very bad have continuous low mood, 82% have feelings of hopelessness and 71% regularly feel tearful.
  • 75% of unpaid carers receiving Carer’s allowance are struggling with cost-of-living pressures, while almost half (46%) are cutting back on essentials, including food and heating.
The right to support and resources

Caregivers often face numerous challenges, including emotional stress, financial strain, and physical exhaustion. Recognising their right to adequate support and resources is crucial. The Care Act (2014) places a duty on local authorities to ensure that individuals who are identified as carers are offered support.

Derbyshire Carers Association offers one to one financial and legal advice to carers, helping to identify and receive the support they are entitled to. They provide this service on behalf of the local authority in Derbyshire and are the first port of call for carers and those professionals working with carers.

Every day another 12,000 people take on a caring responsibility.
4.7% of the population in England and Wales are providing over 20 hours of care per week.
The most recent Census 2021 estimates the number of unpaid carers across the UK is 5.7 million.
The right to work-life balance

Balancing caregiving responsibilities with personal and professional commitments can be incredibly challenging. Carers have the right to a healthy work-life balance, and employers should implement policies that support flexible working arrangements, paid leave, and other supportive measures. This not only benefits caregivers but also contributes to a more compassionate and understanding workplace culture.

The right to health and wellbeing

The wellbeing of caregivers is paramount to their ability to provide effective care. Carers have the right to prioritise their health and should be encouraged to seek physical and mental health support when needed. Healthcare systems should also recognise the unique stressors faced by caregivers and provide tailored services to address their specific needs.

How Ashgate Hospice supports carers

We recognise the significant impact there can be on carers as they support those they love. We acknowledge that their priority is the wellbeing of the person they are caring for. So, we provide support for them to be able to do this to the best of their ability and for as long as possible.

We have an amazing group of compassionate and experienced volunteers who can support carers with a range of practical and emotional issues. For those experiencing more complex and challenging situations, we provide specialist social work, counselling and spiritual care.

We also acknowledge the caring role that many children and young people can take on. Our team plays an active role in supporting them and keeping them safe. We ensure they have the chance to express themselves as individuals and as young people.

Our Day Services also provide weekly drop-in sessions where carers can talk to staff, share their worries and concerns, receive support from other carers, or simply take a break from it all.

Many of us who work within the Supportive Care Service have experienced the challenges and stresses of being a carer, of the day-to-day frustrations of trying to access the most appropriate support at the time it is truly needed. We see first-hand the impact of cuts to services; the delays and the high thresholds there now are to access even minimal support. Understanding and promoting carers rights is, therefore, a key aspect of the support we offer here at Ashgate Hospice.

Accessing our services

Our Supportive Care Service is available to all those who are affected by a life-limiting illness. The individual diagnosed with a life-limiting illness must be registered with a North Derbyshire GP. If you are caring for someone and you would like to access our services, you can be referred by a healthcare professional, for example, your GP. Alternatively, you can self-refer or be referred by your family and friends, if you have given your consent. Referrals for children are also accepted to our service.

You can email us at [email protected] or if you would like to speak with a member of staff, please contact us on 01246 568801 and ask for the Supportive Care Service.

If you would like to attend the drop-in at our Day Services, please contact them on 01246 568801, asking for Day Services, or email [email protected] for more details of days and times.  The Day Services team also has direct contact with the team at Derbyshire Carers Association and can signpost for support as needed.

Support from Derbyshire Carers Association 

Derbyshire Carers Association provides a range of support services for carers in the community. This includes:

  • One-to-one support from a Carer Support Worker
  • Carers Helpline: Open Monday to Friday 9am – 4.30pm
  • Carer assessments and emergency planning
  • Support to navigate and connect to support services
  • Carers support groups and ‘Cuppa & Chats’
  • Wellbeing activities and carer learning sessions
  • Telephone befriending service
  • Free one to one financial and legal advice
Contact details for Derbyshire Carers Association

Phone: 01773 833833 / 07773 174371