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In the UK there are approximately seven million adults (one in ten) who are unpaid carers: older carers are the most disadvantaged group in Britain. They save this country around GBP 119 billion a year.

Dorset has around 105 000 people aged 60+, many of whom are carers on low incomes. Poole has around 16 600 carers, mostly an 'invisible' population looking after someone who is frail, sick or disabled. Bournemouth has a similar population and with the 42 000 carers in Dorset this means there is a total of between 70 000 to 80 000 carers across the county.

Advocare - Caring for Carers

Advocare - Caring for Carers is a small charity dedicated to helping unpaid family carers of frail, sick or disabled loved ones. Our free Caring for Carers service is run by carers for carers. As far as we know it is the only charity of its kind in the country. We aim to safeguard the wellbeing of unpaid carers by helping them to head off crisis and prevent premature or unwanted institutionalisation of their loved ones.

Our free Caring for Carers service

We offer a friendly, confidential 'listening ear' and support carers individually, by telephone, home visits and group activities.

If required we advocate on behalf of the carer and assist those wishing to advocate for themselves.

Advocare can make representations to statutory bodies on the carer's behalf and act as a buffer to protect them and their loved-ones from any backlash.

The Assert programme

It is well recognised that long-term stress can have an adverse effect on a person's health yet GPs tend to offer carers medication for stress-related conditions instead of referring them to sources of psychological or emotional support. Accordingly Advocare has developed the Assert programme which is tailored to address some of the 'invisible' aspects of caring. Assert runs for six months and can be facilitated in a group setting or on an individual basis. The programme reduces stress and improves outlook which helps to prevent a form of burnout we term as 'the unpaid carer's syndrome'.

Reaching carers before they reach crisis point

At present, carers in distress contact Advocare or are referred to us as a last resort. Advocare's primary aim is to reach carers before they reach crisis point, to become the first port of call. Prevention is better and cheaper than cure.

Setting the scene for a sea-change in the culture of care

We are currently formulating Advocare's Charter for Unpaid Carers to enable them to 'troubleshoot' care-related problems, especially for those who are sole advocates of vulnerable people in institutionalised care settings. Advocare's Charter for Unpaid Carers will be underpinned by a legal framework to enable carers to deal effectively with obstructive bureaucracy.

If you would like to become a Friend of Advocare and help us to further our aims we would like to hear from you. Please contact Cathey on (01202) 737592.

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