#OTalk – Tuesday 9th August – Occupational Therapy and the carer role. Hosted by @SharonOTUClan

This chat will be hosted by Sharon Hardman @SharonOTUClan.

During my Occupational Therapy (OT) pre-registration training my Dad, who lives in a different country, had a stroke.  I am next of kin to my Dad.  Suddenly, from the moment my Dad had his stroke, I acquired a whole new role.  This involved being next of kin to a parent who had a stroke and navigating different health and social care systems in a different language.  This has been a huge learning curve personally and professionally and I believe that this has had a positive influence my OT practice.

I have a newfound understanding of the informal carer role, that is the most challenging job I have ever done.  A carer is defined as “anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.” (NHS, 2022).

Across the UK today 6.5 million people are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill. (Carers UK website, 2022).  According to Carers UK (2022) that’s 1 in 8 adults who care, unpaid, for family and friends.  Our loved ones are living longer with illness or disability, and more and more of us are looking after them. Whether round-the-clock or for a few hours a week, in our own home or for someone at the other end of an online conversation – caring can have a huge effect on people’s lives and plans.  Carers are holding families together, enabling loved ones to get the most out of life, making an enormous contribution to society and saving the economy billions of pounds.

Yet many carers are stretched to the limit – juggling care with work and family life, or even struggling with poor health. Caring can present many challenges in many forms from filling in forms, navigating the maze of health and care services and coping with the pressures of caring.

I wanted to create an #OTalk that enabled the OT community to share their experiences of being carers (in the past or currently) and promote further discussion in this area.

The questions that I would like you to consider are:

  1. Carers UK (2022) estimated that over a quarter (26%) of all workers were juggling work and care. Staying in work is a major challenge for the 3 million working carers.  Do you feel that your employer understands your role as a carer and what support do they provide?
  1. Carer’s physical and mental health is often impacted by their caring role. What support do you have to look after your own health and wellbeing? 
  1. What are your thoughts on carer assessments?
  1. Do you use any Digital technology such online health appointments, apps, environmental monitoring such as doorbell videoing systems, remote monitoring such as falls alarms, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and voice assisted devices like Amazon?  What is the impact of digital technology on your caring role?
  1. How does your caring role (in the past or currently) influence your professional practice? 

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