Unpaid carers will be offered help to meet other carers to share their experiences and learn how to influence policy
Almost £1.4 million has been awarded to a social enterprise to create a network of unpaid carers of people with dementia in Scotland.
The Together in Dementia Every Day (TIDE) network has been given the cash by the Life Changes Trust to expand its work from England north of the border.
It brings together carers of people with dementia, to help them build a group of friends for peer support and aims to empower carers to influence policy and practice that will improve their experiences as unpaid carers.
TIDE has successfully created similar in networks in Liverpool and Manchester.
Jean Tottie, chair and director at the social enterprise, said: “This funding is crucial in helping us develop a united network of carers in Scotland, working to build better lives for both themselves and the people with dementia they care for.
“TIDE is not a support group; it is an involvement network of carers led by carers, working to give a voice to the thousands of carers in Scotland – and the UK - many of whom have left their jobs to look after people living with dementia.
“Without these thousands of people selflessly dedicating their lives to looking after loved ones, the NHS and our care system would not be able to cope. But it is not easy: hundreds of thousands of family carers across the country jeopardise their own health and well-being every single day without the necessary services to back them up.
“We want to help these carers realise that they are experts at what they do, and to encourage health professionals and commissioners to value their input when making decisions on policy that affect people living with dementia and those who care for them. We’re here to give carers a voice to influence those changes, both locally and nationally.”
Across the UK, there are around 700,000 unpaid carers of a person with dementia.
It is estimated this saves the public around £11 billion per year but 69% of those carers have reported that caring has had a negative impact on their own physical and mental health.
Mainly family and friends of those living with dementia, unpaid carers have reported feeling isolated, burnt-out and unable to look after their own well-being.
Funding for the Scottish network has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent Scottish charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund grant, to improve the lives people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.
Anna Buchanan, director of the charity’s dementia programme, said: “This funding will empower those who look after friends or relatives with dementia to have a bigger say in the issues that affect their lives, with support from a network of like-minded people, who have had similar experiences.
“TIDE acts as a catalyst to bring about positive attitudinal and behavioural change in how, as a country, we recognise, value and involve carers of people living with dementia.”
To join the TIDE network visit its website at tide.uk.net.