Almost £1.4 million funding has been awarded to a social enterprise network that brings together unpaid carers of people with dementia. The funding will be used to support carers in Scotland to have a greater say in the day to day issues that affect them and those they care for.
The TIDE network (Together in Dementia Every Day) was set up by a group of carers or former carers of people with dementia to highlight the lack of support available to them, and to recognise the crucial role they play in their unpaid capacity. TIDE already operates in England with specific projects across Liverpool and Manchester city regions and this funding will enable them to develop their work in Scotland.
Across the UK, around 700,000 friends and family are caring for a person with dementia, making them the biggest workforce in dementia care they provide around 44% of the total cost of care. This saves the public around £11 billion per year. 69% of these carers have reported that caring has had a negative impact on their own physical and mental health.
Many carers of family or friends with dementia feel they receive insufficient support from health and social care services, leaving them feeling isolated, burnt-out and unable to look after their own well-being. It is therefore unsurprising that two thirds of carers report having suffered from depression as a result of caring.
This new network will bring together carers of people with dementia, not only to build their own peer support systems, but also to give them the tools and confidence to voice their needs and influence policy and practice that will improve their experiences as unpaid carers as well as the services available to those they care for.
Jean Tottie, Chair and Director at TIDE, 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."
Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust 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 act 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."
Funding has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent Scottish charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.
Tide is an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of family carers, hosted by Life Story Network CIC. They are inviting carers of people with dementia to join their network and work together to create a better future for family carers and people with dementia. To join in, head to: www.tide.uk.net