8th-14th June is Carers’ Week, an annual campaign which raises awareness of the 6.5 million people in the UK who are unpaid carers. It recognises the huge contribution they make to society, and the challenges they face as they care for a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or elderly. Many carers are stretched to the limit – juggling care with work and family life, or even struggling with poor health themselves. And in the current pandemic they are facing even more challenges. This year, Carers’ Week is about Making Caring Visible, highlighting the vital role these often overlooked individuals play in our society and making sure they are able to access the support they need.

Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care understands that the effect of an advanced or terminal illness can go further than just the patient. It recognises the important part that family members and friends play in caring for their loved ones, and wants to support these carers in any way they can. Although its weekly ‘Open House’ sessions and support groups are currently suspended due to Coronavirus restrictions, carers can still access support through its website. Its Counsellors, Chaplains, Social Workers and Welfare Officers are still supporting its carers throughout the pandemic, by phone and video calls, or in person for those whose relative is being cared for on its In-Patient Unit. Its Home Support team have also set up a befriending service for patients and carers at Phyllis Tuckwell who need someone to talk to, which pairs them up with a volunteer who they can speak with over the phone.

“We provide a great deal of support and advice for the carers of our patients,” says Nicola Casey-Simmons, Carer Champion at Phyllis Tuckwell. “Our Carers Charter describes how we support our carers, and our recently-developed Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) asks these carers what particular areas they need support with, so we can tailor our response and ensure that we are helping them with the specific concerns they have.”