Carers Week 2021: Advocacy & Caring
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
#CarersWeek is a welcome opportunity to highlight the challenges facing unpaid carers and to recognise the contribution they make to families and communities. This year’s theme is Making Caring Visible and Valued. Advocate Janet describes her personal experience of being an unpaid carer to show how advocacy can help.
" As a Carer of an adult daughter with physical and mental health issues I totally understand how difficult it can be for unpaid carers. I often do presentations to carers groups where people don’t realise their own entitlement to advocacy, typically responding with ‘but I’m his/her Mum’, not realising that they too could need the support of an advocate. Advocacy is about being an independent voice for the client – we don’t advise or tell people what to do – it is the client’s voice that matters and our role as advocates is to help them express their wishes and feelings.
And it seems to me that often it is not just the person who is being cared for but also the unpaid carers who could do with that extra support.
Alongside this, there is also confusion about the independent and empowering aspects of advocacy which can sometimes lead to a difference of opinion between advocates and carers; the advocate’s role is always to support the client, even if they and their carers have conflicting ideas about what is best for them. I have my daughter’s permission to share my carer’s role with that as her advocate; doing so helps to reduce the barrier there often is between carers and advocates.
My daughter is 28 and lives with me but despite her disabilities, she has the same right as anyone else to make her own decisions about her care and treatment, even if they are unwise and I think are wrong. I have to remind myself of this sometimes! As my daughter’s advocate who is also her carer, I must always ensure that she has her own voice."