Monday 3rd December 2012
Over 1.1 million people are looking after someone with cancer in the UK.1 But more than half wouldn’t describe themselves as carers and may say, ‘I'm just being their husband, partner, daughter or friend ...’
Many carers don’t realise there is support available to help them in their role. So as one of the people they may turn to, you’re vital in helping us to identify and support them.
Benny Millier meets a lot of carers in need of support in her role as Information and Support Service Manager of a Macmillan information centre at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.
Benny says, ‘The term "carer" doesn’t mean anything to them, because when you are supporting someone close to you with cancer, it becomes a normal thing to do.’
Yet the care these people provide is vital – from helping the person with cancer with shopping, washing or dressing, to taking them to the hospital and being there for them when they need to talk. And despite the physical, emotional and financial impact this has on their lives, 49% of carers of people with cancer are not accessing the support that’s available to them.1
‘A large part of my role is to signpost patients and carers to where they can get practical and emotional support. Whenever I identify someone who is looking after someone with cancer, we have a chat over a cup of tea. Depending on their needs, I might give them leaflets about specific issues, such as where to get financial guidance or refer them to our complementary therapists at the centre.’
Benny launched a support group for carers in 2010 that meets every other month. ‘The meetings are quite lively,’ says Benny. ‘I try to ensure that it’s a safe place where people can just relax and make friends. Being in an environment where they can be open about the struggles they face really helps.’
1. More than a million. Understanding the UK's carers of people with cancer [PDF, 4.69 MB]. A report by Ipsos Mori for Macmillan Cancer Support. 2011.
We need your help to let carers know that the Macmillan team is here to support them too. From information booklets to financial guidance and expert advice, we provide a range of free services to help them in their vital role as a carer.
Details of how Macmillan can support carers can be found in our handy guide, Do you look after someone with cancer? Make sure that you have some to hand by ordering a batch from Be.Macmillan.
Whether they want to ask questions, need support or just want someone to talk to, they can call us free or find information in the carers section of the website.
You can also email Benny for more information.