What is Caring, and How Can a Carer Provide Care?

Discover the essence of caring and the invaluable role of carers in providing support to the vulnerable, disabled, and elderly.

2 mins read
[ Photo Credit: Dominik Lange/ Unspalsh]

Caring for the vulnerable, disabled, and elderly is a highly sought-after and valuable service in the United Kingdom.

Adult Social Care offers practical support to individuals with disabilities, physical or mental impairments, enabling them to live independently and maintain their safety and well-being. This service is typically provided in people’s homes, care homes, or within the community.

It encompasses “personal care,” such as assistance with cooking meals, washing, dressing, and help with getting out of bed in the morning or into bed at night. Additionally, it provides broader support to help individuals remain active and engaged in their communities. Adult Social Care also aids those who care for adult family members or friends.

Most care support is aimed at helping people regain their independence after a hospital stay or residing in a care home. It may include providing aids and adaptations to individuals’ homes. Care can be short-term, long-term, or a combination of both.

Accessing care services and their associated costs vary based on individual needs and the range of services provided. Care can be arranged privately through a care agency or intermediaries such as the Social Adult Care Services of Borough Councils, who assist individuals in need of care.

The amount individuals contribute toward the cost of care providers depends on factors such as the number of hours required, the specific services provided, and the person’s financial circumstances and savings.

Short-term care, also known as intermediate or aftercare, helps individuals relearn daily activities like cooking meals, washing, maintaining stability while walking, dressing, and rebuilding confidence in self-care. Typically, people receive this type of care for approximately 1 or 2 weeks, although free short-term care for up to 6 weeks is available. The duration of care depends on the individual’s ability to cope at home independently. If care is needed for longer than 6 weeks, a means test and/or financial assessment for Adult Social Care may be required by the Local Council.

All care services in the UK are monitored by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which serves as the official regulatory body. Partners in Care and Health (PCH) assist councils in enhancing the delivery of adult social care and public health services while helping the government understand the sector’s challenges.

The legal framework governing the care of individuals is outlined in the Care Act 2014, which local Councils’ Adult Social Care units must adhere to in their care assessments for those in need. The assessment process emphasizes understanding people’s lived experiences and ensuring equity of access, experience, and outcomes for both service users and carers.

What is Self-Care, and What are the Barriers to Adult Social Care?

If you were to ask 10 people whether they do enough to take care of themselves, most would likely provide you with a variety of reasons why they don’t. Similarly, if you were to ask 10 social workers the same question, you’d probably receive similar excuses. The difference is that social workers are trained to know better, but much depends on service delivery.

Chronic stress can lead to burnout and behavioral manifestations, resulting in decreased tolerance toward others and aggression. Physical exhaustion, or “burnout,” occurs when individuals feel hopeless due to excessive workload, lack of support, or even compassion fatigue.

The consequences of burnout include anxiety, anger, and depression for care providers, while their clients also suffer from diminished care.

Can Care Address Every Need?

The main concern is that carers may be unable to meet every need of those requiring their services. Managing multiple medical conditions can strain caregivers, and increased levels of disability and decreased physical fitness and well-being often necessitate more extensive healthcare services that a regular carer cannot provide. Additionally, financial constraints may limit access to social care. Nevertheless, social care remains the only available support service for the care of the weak and vulnerable. The alternative option is self-care, where individuals take care of themselves based on their own knowledge and information. If self-care were possible in all instances, there would be no need for care services at all.

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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