Home Opinion Supporting a generation in crisis

Supporting a generation in crisis

by Kirsty Kirsty

Gillian Louggar, Care Manager, Promedica24

The sandwich generation has a lot on their plate. As the cost of living rises and pressure continues to increase on the care sector, many people have found themselves stuck between ageing parents and dependent children, picking up the slack of caring duties.

It’s a heavy burden, working in care we see plenty of people burnt out by the sheer scale of their responsibilities. Already impacted by rising expenses, the challenges of care can quickly become overwhelming, leaving people with little energy left for their own lives and wellbeing.

With this in mind, the care sector needs to consider how we can help the people who are helping everyone else. To do this, we need to first understand the obstacles they are facing. One Promedica24 client Bev, had been anticipating a restful early retirement and was looking forward to having some more time to herself. However, after agreeing to help an elderly friend and two relatives, she soon found herself stretched too thin. Bev describes the people she cared for becoming “completely reliant” on her, as the only person they trusted to provide the care they needed.

She also found herself wrestling with serious issues faced by the elderly, with some of the individuals she supported suffering from depression and dementia. Even as she gave up huge portions of her life to provide for others, Bev describes feeling that she was “trying to please everyone, and it never being enough”, with her husband and children taking second place.

As the UK grapples with an ageing population, more and more people like Bev are going to find themselves with these sorts of caring responsibilities, and we are currently ill-equipped to support them. The consequences are far reaching, with women in particular at risk of being impacted as they are typically more likely to find themselves with caring responsibilities.

Today, families tend to live further apart than ever before, making it a challenge for relatives to share the burden of care amongst a wider group. Like Bev, many face the challenge alone. At the same time, tightened budgets have left families with reduced options, and an obvious lack of social care support in communities nationwide. In rural areas, this combination of factors has had an especially significant impact.

For Bev, it was only after visiting her doctor that she came to terms with the toll her care duties were taking. The doctor asked when Bev thought she last felt happy; she couldn’t remember. She realised she was not able to continue to take on the burden of care for so many others.

These problems are complex, and can be overwhelming for people facing them, so it should come as no surprise that our solutions cannot be one size fits all either. Every person is unique, and whatever care they’re receiving, be it domiciliary, live-in or residential, requires a flexible approach.

Though it’s true that both care providers and the NHS are facing significant demand, the solution cannot be to offload that challenge onto members of the sandwich generation. The care sector must chart a better course, supporting people to live as independently as possible, and in their own communities for as long as possible, without members of those communities having to bear the burden without any support.

Image depicts Gillian Louggar, Care Manager, Promedica24

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