Pharmacies help to uncover 'hidden' carers
Pharmacy staff across Oxfordshire are being encouraged to spot 'hidden' carers who may not know about the help and support available to them.
The month long initiative is running throughout June to support national Carers Week (12-18 June), which this year continues its focus on building carer friendly communities: supporting carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising carers are members of the community with needs of their own.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking people who work in the county's 115 pharmacies to look out for adults and younger people (under 18s) collecting prescriptions on behalf of relatives, friends or neighbours.
These people may not recognise themselves as unpaid carers and may not know about the support they can receive: from a carer’s assessment by trained professionals and carers’ surgeries with outreach workers, to access to support groups, possible financial help and respite care.
Pharmacists have leaflets to hand out and a 'credit' card which carers can carry with their details to alert others that they look after someone in the event of an emergency.
Kay Francis, head of Carers Support, Action for Carers (Oxfordshire), said: "We know there are more than 61,000 people providing unpaid care to others in Oxfordshire, but only a small proportion of these people recognise themselves as carers.
"For some, taking on a caring role can be sudden: someone in your family has an accident or your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer or your partner’s health gradually worsens.
"Around 18,000 carers are regularly receiving some level of support in the county, so there is much to do to try and reach out to the often unseen carers in our communities. To them, caring is simply an extension of their role as husband, wife, child, friend or neighbour.
"We hope to identify both adult and young carers so there is information in the pharmacies targeted at carers of all ages."
Carol Trower, chief executive, Pharmacy Thames Valley, said: "Staff at pharmacies across the county are delighted to be taking part in this initiative to identify carers. They have had great success in past years in helping carers to recognise themselves as such and to make them aware of the help available for them."
Pharmacies across Oxfordshire are supporting national Carers Week 2017.