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NHS Property Services is supporting our charity partner, Carers Trust, this Carers Week 2019.

A carer is someone who "provides unpaid care and support to a family member or a friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, substance misuse issue, or who needs extra help as they grow older" according to Carers Week 2019.  There are approximately 7 million unpaid carers in the UK and this number is growing because between 2001 and 2015, the number of people with a limiting long term illness rose by 16% and those over 85 grew by 38%.

On average, a UK carer will spend 13 years caring for a relative with a long term disability or illness and 29% of carers will have to care for 28 years. Caring for someone, while often satisfying or rewarding, can also be stressful and have an impact on one's emotional, physical and economical state, especially without support. Carers also often neglect taking care of themselves as they put the wellbeing of the person they are caring for before their own.  

At NHS Property Services, we aim to make a positive difference in the local communities we serve by using our spaces, expertise, and resources to support others in their health and wellbeing. One of our charity partners is Carers Trust who help tackle the physical and mental health impacts from being an unpaid carer. They work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of being an unpaid carer.  By supporting them, we are helping to address some of the root causes for rising patient demand for clinical services.

The money we have raised has funded:

  • 26 grants for essential items like washing machines, cookers, beds and carpet
  • 19 grants for breaks and respite care
  • 5 grants for travel and personal development
  • 22 grants for 'Older Carers Getting Together' social events 

One of the grants was used for York Carers Centre to take 15 older carers (aged 60+ including seven carers over 80) to the pantomime last Christmas. The aim of the event was for carers to have some fun and enjoyment in the middle of winter as after Christmas carers often feel there is often not much to look forward to. Carers met pre and post the production to socialise and get to know each other. This was particularly important for those who felt a bit nervous about attending and meant they could ask each other if they’d attended a pantomime before and talk about neutral topics such as the theatre.

The Lead Officer reported: "One carer had never attended previously, and I heard another carer telling them what to expect - the unexpected! They talked so enthusiastically about the experience of panto and both were laughing and smiling. During the performance, I looked along the row of seats and saw a sea of smiling faces, clapping and one lady with dementia cheering very enthusiastically."

Another grant was used to provide an elderly carer, Frank* (aged 70), with a new cooker as him and his wife have spent 40 years caring for their daughter who has learning difficulties, epilepsy, problems with her spleen, and mobility issues.  Frank has also suffered with depression and is on a low income so when their cooker broke down they had no funds to replace it.  NHS Property Services' money bought this family a new cooker much to Frank's delight.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise their contribution to those they look after. We kicked off Carers Week 2019 with the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge as on 8 June 2019, 61 NHS Property Services colleagues successfully completed the 25 mile hike to raise over £20,000 for the Carers Trust and our other charity partner, The Silver Line.  

Carers Trust, Giles Meyer, CEO commented:
“We are delighted to see that staff at NHS Property Service are taking on the gruelling Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise funds for Carers Trust! The money they raise means we will be able to provide grants to help support older carers right across the country. Older carers are often ‘unseen’ and are especially vulnerable to becoming isolated. These grants will address that by supporting group activities to bring older carers together, thereby tackling loneliness and isolation. On behalf of everyone at Carers Trust, I’d like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone involved at NHS Property Service for undertaking such an arduous challenge, and for all the money they raise. Good luck!"

* the names in this article have been changed and the image used is not "Frank"