Carers fear ‘stigma’

By on 29/03/2010 in News

A specialist support service for Carers in the city is urging people not to be too proud to seek help.

Commissioned by Birmingham City Council and managed by the Crossroads Care organisation, the Carers Emergency Response Service (CERS) celebrates its first anniversary on 1st April.

Carers who sign up to the CERS service are registered on a database to receive support in an emergency, and are helped to create an Emergency Action Plan that details the type of care that may be needed by the person they care for.

The plan is then activated when the CERS team are informed that an emergency has occurred. Carers are given a card so that if they are involved in an accident or medical emergency, the police or ambulance service can contact the CERS team.

In its inaugural year alone, CERS has handled 113 emergencies, and over 2000 people have expressed an interest in signing up to the service, but the CERS team would like to see more carers coming forward.

There have been many incidents where CERS has been involved in saving and changing lives for the better; where carers have been re-housed, had increased care packages or more support generally as a direct result their intervention. 4 lives have been saved, and there have been 108 cases where additional support was secured.

On 3 separate occasions, paramedics have found the CERS emergency card on collapsed patients, and have phoned the service to find out who the patient is, and alert CERS to their situation so that care could then be provided for their dependents.

However, with the Carer population of Birmingham estimated at 100,000 people, the team at CERS believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and are urging Carers to shun the 'stigma' of asking for help, rather than priding themselves on being able to manage alone.

Carers with jobs are also reluctant to seek help, as they don't want people to think they can't cope with their work, leaving them to cope with the additional strain of holding down a job and juggling hospital and doctors appointments.

Councillor Sue Anderson, Cabinet Member for Adults and Communities, comments:

“Happy Birthday CERS. The service is a resounding success. They have been receiving excellent feedback from both carers and social care professionals, with Social Workers in particular praising the support that they receive from CERS.

“When Carers sign up to the service, they fill in feedback forms and so far, 100% say that knowing that CERS is there provides them with peace of mind.

That said, more people need to come forward, there is no stigma in admitting that they need help. CERS has found that older people who are caring for a partner can be offended at the implication that they need support.

“Another issue is people realising that they are a carer and that the service is for them, in feedback, one carer said, “I didn't realise I was a Carer, I thought I was a daughter!”. If you provide support to a friend or relative who could not manage without your help, then you are a carer.”

The Birmingham based scheme is the largest in the country, is totally free and does not affect any benefits that may be received.

ENDS

For more information please contact Hayley Meachin on 0121 303 1271/ 07920 750007  hayley.meachin@birmingham.gov.uk

Note to Editors

CERS is funded by the government, commissioned by Birmingham City Council and is managed by the Crossroads Care organisation.

The CERS service should not be used in place of the Ambulance service. Carers should still call 999 in case of a medical emergency for the cared for.

Carers can 'sign up' to the service via referral from a Social Worker or other professional, or by registering an interest at the Carers Centre on Colmore Row, by calling 0121 212 9271 or emailing info@cers.org.uk.

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