Labour’s Suzy Stride pledges to support Harlow’s carer army

Politics / Tue 27th Jan 2015 at 11:58am

Suzy Stride and Liz KendallLABOUR’S parliamentary candidate for Harlow Suzy Stride hosted Labour’s shadow minister for Older people and Care, Liz Kendal in Harlow last week to hear first hand the difficulties in social care in Harlow and to launch a policy pledge to improve support for unpaid family carers.

Suzy Stride called the summit of local care professionals in Harlow after weeks of crisis at the local Princess Alexandra Hospital, which many have claimed is in at least part due to cuts in local social care services meaning patients are being kept in hospital because there is no-one to look after them at home. This practice, known as delayed discharges cost the hospital trust almost £2.2 million last year.

There are 9186 people in Harlow caring for elderly or disabled relatives. Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to their families and society as a whole, yet too many feel pushed to breaking point, seeing their own health and income suffer too.

That’s why Labour has pledged to help families who care by:

1. Placing a new duty on the NHS to identify family carers, so they can get the right help and support, and giving carers a new right to ask for an annual health check – allowing problems to be identified earlier and prevent costs escalating

2. Giving families caring for people with the greatest needs a single point of contact with care services, so they don’t have to battle different parts of the system

3 Ensuring the funding currently identified for carers’ breaks is properly ring-fenced, to make sure all the money goes to family carers

4.Consulting with employers, trade unions and carers organisations on how to improve flexible working for family carers, which could include measures such as a new period of ‘adjustment leave’ to help families cope with a short-term crisis

5.Recognising the transport costs facing family carers, by including family carers in the groups who can be eligible for hospital car parking concessions

6.Abolishing the bedroom tax – which hits 60,000 carers and penalises them for the extra facilities they need

Suzy Stride said: “Families in Harlow do an incredible job looking after their loved ones, but what was clear from our meeting was that many family carers are struggling. Labour’s pledge to support the 9186 family carers here will make a huge difference. Caring for a loved one is physically and emotionally demanding, and families need a government that’s on their side. With Labour, Britain’s family carers will get the recognition and support they deserve.”

Liz Kendall, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:

“Family life is changing and more of us are looking after elderly or disabled relatives. Yet too many family carers feel pushed to breaking point.

“Too often they have to battle all the different services to try and get the support they need. One in three family carers who are in paid work have to give up their job or reduce their hours because they can’t get the right help to care or flexible working hours.

“Most unpaid carers don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own health, and many don’t come forward for help or get any breaks. Often people don’t even see themselves as being a carer – they’re just a son, daughter, husband, wife or partner trying to look after the person they love.

“It’s not right that people who do so much get so little in return. We need to improve support for families, and Labour’s package of measures will make a real and practical difference to their lives.”

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