Life After Death: supporting carers after bereavement

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A collaboration between Marie Curie, Sue Ryder and the Reform Scotland think tank has produced a new report which calls for major changes in the support offered to carers after the person they have cared for dies.

The report – Life After Death: supporting carers after bereavement – calls for more recognition of the impact of death on the carer and the effect on the carer’s physical and mental health, their relationships, their ability to work and their finances.

Marie Curie, which supports people through terminal illness, Sue Ryder, that provides specialist end of life care and online bereavement support and Reform Scotland, the independent non-party think tank, have produced a set of detailed policy proposals aimed at assisting in the personal recovery of carers after a loved one’s death.

It contains five policy proposals:

  1. Post-carer support plan – A holistic package of coordination and support for carers to prepare for life after the death of the person they were caring for, starting during the ‘living grief’ phase before a bereavement takes place
  2. National helpline – Particularly targeted at those caring for people with dementia or terminal illness, who are coping with the living grief of watching their loved one’s health diminish
  3. Training and education fund – Carers may have been out of work for many years as a result of their role – this is specifically aimed at smoothing the path to re-enter employment
  4. Post-caring support payment – A new payment to support a carer after the bereavement, working together with the training and education fund, in particular
  5. Signposting – A new pack for GPs and other key individuals to offer to carers, giving them the full set of information about the help available to them

Full details can be read in the paper.

Pamela MacKenzie, Director of Scotland at Sue Ryder, said:

“The Scottish Government recognises the huge burden shouldered by carers and has put in place measures to support them to cope. However, when the person being cared for dies, the challenges being faced by the carer do not disappear and can even intensify.

“Sue Ryder is asking the Scottish Government to ensure that carers are given the support they need and deserve to help them recover once their role has ended. The practical measures that we are proposing, would  make a real difference to people who currently face having their support withdrawn at the same time as they are dealing with the death of a loved one.

“Now is the right time for changes to be made to ensure that bereaved carers are no longer deserted at such a vulnerable time.”  

Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland at Marie Curie added:

“Many carers struggle following the death of the person they are caring for, whether that is financially, emotionally or when trying to return to aspects of their former lives, like work. Far too often the system fails them and they are left behind. We need this to change. Bereaved carers need extended financial support through Carers’ Allowance and a personal plan to help support them through their bereavement and beyond. We are calling on the Scottish Government to action this now to ensure that everyone in a caring role gets the help they need when that role comes to an end.” 

Alison Payne, Research Director at Reform Scotland, said:

“Carers are the often unseen, and often unsung, heroes of so many people in this country. Their sacrifice is absolute, their dedication to their loved one unfaltering.

“Yet it is the sad reality that life after care has ended can be stressful, uncertain and gloomy. As a country, we are not doing enough to support them.

“It’s time to put that right, and we are delighted to have been able to help Sue Ryder and Marie Curie to create these realistic and achievable policies, which could go a long way to improving the lives of people in post-care.”

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