University asks: Who cares for the carers?

8 February 2017

Derbyshire’s army of unpaid carers will get the chance to share their experiences at a special event at the University of Derby’s Chesterfield Campus on March 1.

‘Caring for the carers: Support in long-term and life-limiting illness’ is a public lecture by Michelle Brown, Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing at the University’s Chesterfield Campus, who will discuss the role of carers in today’s society.

Michelle will be listening as much as talking, as she wants to give a platform to informal carers on whom more and more people rely as life expectancy continues to rise in the UK.

“If people stopped doing all that caring, the impact on the NHS could be devastating,” said Michelle, who says that the value of their work has been estimated at two-and-a-half times the UK’s public health budget.

“It’s something I’m really passionate about. A lot of the evening will be about discussion – a chance for people to share their experiences and stories.”

Chesterfield campus

Unpaid carers not only save the community money, but also pay the price in terms of their own health: “I want to recognise the impact that caring can have on the informal carer physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and financially,” said Michelle, whose career has included oncology and palliative care nursing as well helping to support and car­e for patients with a cancer diagnosis before and after operations.

“I want to identify resources that may help to make life a little bit easier, things which can help to stop carers feeling isolated.”

This includes how health and social care staff should be assessing the carer’s needs as well as those of the patient, and where to look for advice.

“It is also about looking after themselves, what is realistic and just being kind to themselves – and recognising that they need support,” she said.