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Providing support to anyone affected by blood cancer
Today (Friday 24th November) is Carers Rights Day. This day is an initiative developed by Carers UK to bring together organisations from across the country to ensure carers in every area understand their rights and know what support they are entitled to receive.
In 2015, there were over 6.5million adults in the UK acting as carers. Carers, in this sense, does not refer to a paid professional. It means that 1 in 8 adults are providing some form of support to a friend or relative, helping them to carry out their normal day-to-day routines, alongside their normal working lives.
It is estimated that around 6,000 more people become a carer every day in the UK, and this number is expected to increase due to an ageing population (i.e. people living longer on average). Cancer is one of the health issues in which prevalence is increasing because of this.
Each year, the number of people diagnosed with a cancer increases by around 3.7%. This may not seem like a huge number, but consider that around 9,500 people are diagnosed each year with a leukaemia. A 3.7% increase will mean that the following year 9,850 people will be diagnosed, and the year after 10,200 people.
A diagnosis of cancer can have a huge impact on the ability of a patient to perform everyday activities. In our Living with Leukaemia report, we identified the impact which a diagnosis of leukaemia had on patients. This included an impact on the mobility of 43% of patients; reduced ability to perform daily routines such as cooking and cleaning, particularly in acute leukaemia patients; and 40% of patients reported a negative impact on their finances.
This impact that a cancer diagnosis has demonstrates why cancer patients can become dependent upon a carer to help them with their day-to-day routine. This may be a partner, parent, child or friend. However, research from Carers UK in 2016 identified that many of these people do not consider themselves as carers, meaning they miss out on support they have a right to receive.
This can have huge impacts on the quality of life of a carer, who often has a lot of responsibility in terms of physically caring for someone, and also providing financially and practically for them and their family. Over 1.3 million carers provide over 50 hours of care a week, which is more than a full-time job, and 3 million carers try to balance employment with caring. Consequently, there are high numbers of carers suffering from mental and physical health conditions as a direct impact of caring.
This is why Carers Rights Day is vitally important. Today is about sharing information with people in every area about whom a carer is, what rights they have, and ensuring that carers are supported. Find out more about Carers Rights Day at https://www.carersuk.org/
We have produced an advocacy toolkit on carer’s rights which covers: the 2014 Carers Rights Act that ensures local authorities are legally obligated to assess the needs of carers; employment rights; and carers allowance. You can access this here.
If you need further support as a carer, you can contact our helpline on 08088 010 444. (Available weekdays from 9.00am - 10.00pm and Saturdays 9.00am - 12.30pm).
Read the carer’s perspective in these inspirational stories:
Joe was just four years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and his parents suddenly found themselves carers for a child with blood cancer. In this blog for Carers Week, Joe’s dad explains what it’s like to be a carer: www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/blog/caring-for-joe
When Deborah Alsina's husband was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), their world changed in an instant. She became his carer and his diagnosis affected her too. Read their story here: www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/inspirational-stories/deborah-alsina