Friday, 22 June 2012
They care for others but not themselves
It was a reported at the weekend that 40 per cent of unpaid carers are ‘putting their own health at risk’ in Scotland. As many as two in five kinship carers are sacrificing their own health by putting off medical treatment because they are looking after someone full time.
There is growing evidence that many carers delay preventative treatments including cancer screening because they have caring responsibilities and feel they cannot take the time out to attend. This is having a negative impact on the health of almost nine out of ten carers in Scotland. In addition many have suffered a physical injury such as back pain through caring for someone ill, frail or disabled but have not always sought the full medical support and treatment that they require.
What can we do for the more than 650,000 kinship carers in Scotland who are at risk? They are the embodiment of the values we as a faith community uphold - selflessness, love, and consistent compassion. They deserve not only our respect, but our active and practical support. The Church of Scotland is in a prime position to offer assistance on the ground - volunteers offering to step in so carers can attend appointments or providing additional support for families when a carer is unwell. We can be pastorally being attuned to the struggles they daily encounter and we can be advocates for more support and funding from
the statutory providers at the centre. Kinship carers save the government millions of pounds, but more importantly, they give the gift of love and dignity. Because of their care, people are given the opportunity to stay at home and be as independent as they can for as long as they can.
The Church of Scotland recognises this as being a critical issue for society today. Therefore
we will be taking a report to the 2013 General Assembly on the subject of Kinship Carers and the challenges they face.
We have a duty - no, a privilege, to care for those who care!