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Carers share experiences at Westminster

Older people who look after adult children receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) travelled to Westminster yesterday (25 October) to meet MPs and describe the challenges they face while raising awareness of the important role they play.

Six parents from across Norfolk and Suffolk visited the House of Commons for the Parliamentary reception, which was organised by the Carers Trust.

They travelled to London alongside staff from NSFT, Suffolk Family Carers and Carers Matter Norfolk, as well as other carers from around the country, to discuss the particular pressures of caring in older age, such as their own poor health, loneliness, isolation and financial difficulties. They also highlighted the types of support which they feel could help.

The event was organised as part of the Carers Trust ‘Speak Up for Older Carers’ campaign, which saw NSFT, Suffolk Family Carers and Norfolk Carers take part in focus groups and carry out consultations with local carers to gain valuable insight and feedback.

Following this research, the Carers Trust published a report, called ‘Retirement on Hold’, which highlighted that older carers are often reluctant to come forward for support, struggle to navigate the health and care system and neglect their own health.

It comes after the 2011 census revealed that there are 1.8m carers aged 60 and over in England. In addition, estimates show that one in ten people aged over 85 provide unpaid care, while most carers aged over 70 provide more than 60 hours of unpaid care a week.

Howard Tidman, Carers Lead with NSFT, helped to organise the visit. He said: “We hope that the event helped to raise awareness of the important role which carers play while also highlighting some of the specific pressures which older carers face, such as financial worries, lack of support, poor health and loneliness.

“It also provided an opportunity to talk about the needs of those with mental health problems, as well as gaining support for increasing funding for mental health services.

“We almost always think about carers as being younger people looking after older people, but that is not necessarily the case these days. These carers play a vital role while also helping to reduce pressure on health and social care services, so it is essential that we do what we can to support them.”

Individual carer’s constituency MPs were invited to the reception, along with any other MPs with an interest in carers issues and health.

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