The Advocare Project
In 1999 the Advocare Steering Group was formed. Two years later this small group of former carers was constituted as a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting and empowering unpaid adult carers of frail, sick or disabled people. Published research shows that unpaid carers tend to prefer to be supported by someone who has also been an unpaid carer. This backed up the group's collective caring experience. It was therefore determined at the outset that Advocare should be operated by carers for carers. In order that the 'invisible' needs of unpaid caregivers may become better recognised and understood it was also determined that Advocare should enable them to have a free voice by:
- protecting unpaid carers and former carers from 'backlash'
- remaining financially independent and
- maintaining Advocare's integrity wherein lies its strength
Advocare's vision: To improve the 'lot' of unpaid carers
Advocare's vision is to enhance the status of the caregiving role and thereby improve the 'lot' of unpaid carers. To maintain their quality of life and that of the person they are looking after they need adequate financial resources, regular respite breaks and reliable domiciliary support. Until unpaid carers have a free voice and are heard by those working within the health and social care arena many vulnerable people remain at risk.
Advocare's mission: To reach unpaid carers before they reach crisis point
Our Caring for Carers service supports unpaid carers and seeks to empower them. Generally people contact Advocare or are referred to us as a last resort. In its mission to help unpaid carers head off crisis and prevent the unwanted or premature institutionalisation of vulnerable people Advocare wants to reach them before they reach crisis point. We are endeavouring to make Advocare's Caring for Carers service available to unpaid carers routinely on a national basis, to set up a free 24 hour helpline and have Advocare cafès (drop-in centres with 'quiet' rooms) in every district.
Advocare's guiding principle: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" (Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790)
The unpaid carer of a vulnerable person is often their sole advocate. They carry greater responsibility and a heavier care burden. Our casework shows the advocate's voice tends to go unheard and unheeded by those working within the health and care establishment. Advocare enables unpaid carers to speak freely about:
- sub-standard care;
- institutional maltreatment of their loved ones including over-use of drugs;
- the unmet 'invisible' needs of vulnerable people.
A sea-change is needed for unpaid carers. Advocare is working on a Charter for Carers to help them to obtain swift, common-sense solutions to the problems they have with a pragmatic health and social care system. Advocare's Charter for Carers is a 'rapid response' strategy to help unpaid carers to deal more effectively with an unbending bureaucracy that focuses on process rather than the people it is supposed to serve.'
Speak Up! Don't suffer in silence!
If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of your caregiving role or would like to tell us about your caring experiences we would like to hear from you. You could help to bring about a sea-change for carers. Please contact Cathey on our Caring for Carers line Poole (01202) 737592 which also operates outside office hours.