OpinioN8

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Haringey is running a series of events to mark National Carers Week and there is a page on the Haringey website listing these.

It strikes me this throws up a couple of anomalies. Trivially, Haringey claims to celebrate unsung heroes, whereupon they are not unsung any more, which is good.

On the other hand there are lots of statistics being published just now which paint a scary picture of just how many carers (and presumably therefore, of those being cared for) there are. This article suggests there are 180,000 children acting as carers, while this one based on the UK census estimates that there are almost 6 million carers in Britain (Haringey estimate 6.5m).

So the second anomaly arises out of the very quality of health care we get nowadays. When infant mortality is low, some cancers can be cured, and blood pressure can be managed by means of pills, then the implication is that many people are alive, and need care, who 20 or 50 or 100 years ago, would have died.

There is also an implication - the chances are it will happen to you. Haringey states that 6,000 people start caring each day. If we assume that 6,000 people also stop 'caring' each day (may not be a valid assumption, especially if the number of carers is increasing) then in 1,000 days the entire population of carers will have changed. So, roughly every three years there will be 6 million different people acting as carers. So, in 15 years that's 30 million carers, and if each of those cares for one person, that's just about the entire population of the country involved one way or another every 15 years (though there may be cases of people who raise a handicapped child, tend to aged parents and then nurse a partner through a terminal disease). Now I've probably missed something in those assumptions (part time carers, carers looking after both their parents, for examples) but it still strikes me its odds on that you will be involved in the fairly near future as either a care, or as someone who is cared for.

The theme of National Carers Week is are you "Prepared to Care?" - maybe you need to be.

Tags: carers, national, week

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