Carers Week is a great annual opportunity to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and to recognise the contribution carers make to families and communities. Hopefully some of the on-line resources we've highlighted in this article will assist as part of the overall support carers can provide and will ensure effective caring takes place throughout the whole year.
Our visits to organisations as part of the Connecting Care project has put us in touch with a number of groups and organisations who play an vital role either in a network or in the direct support of unpaid family carers. The picture here is of a session we ran with Chill4Us Carers in Norwich earlier in 2015 to help members in their network of informal carers discover how touchscreen technology could help them stay connected to friends and family.
This article is a round-up of the websites and apps that we have mentioned when working with these groups and which might help you if you are caring for someone close to you.
Also see our page on 'Online Networks That Bring People Together' which has links to further resources and websites that may be useful too. The links listed here are to the generic carers support networks, there are many other support communities and apps that exist for specific medical conditions. Some of these apps can be found on the My Health Apps website and the NHS Choices App Store.
The EU funded Carer+ project aims to:
The website contains specific sections of resources about digital support for
Carers, for Providers of Learning for Carers, for Researchers in Digital Care and for Policy Makers in Digital Inclusion and Care, There are many links to carer toolkits and background research, but also a particularly useful list of lists showing websites and apps for carers.
Research by the Tinder Foundation has found that nearly 9 in 10 carers find it difficult to leave their home because of their caring role, but 42% of carers who are online say that the internet helps to reduce their feelings of isolation. This network run by Tinder Foundation offers specialist help and support that carers need to take advantage of the benefits the online world can offer.
There is a wide selection of resources available on the UK Online Centres website with a full report into digital support for carers due out in Summer 2015.
Babble has been created by Carers Trust as an online space where those aged under 18 who are caring for a family member or friend can chat, share their experiences and access information and advice. The site aims to bring together young carers from across the UK in an online space which is safe, fun and supportive.
The Carers Trust website has other online places to share your concerns. Matter is the network for carers aged 16 to 25 and carers Space for those aged over 25. There is also a general forum and a Live Chat room.
This website and discussion forum was established in 2005 as a social network and community for unpaid family carers and ex-carers. It is about, information, humour, fantasy and fun, chat with carers and finding help when the caring ends. It is a peer support group offering carer resources and members have experience of the isolation felt by family carers, the struggle with finding grants, money and the general difficulty of finding help for carers. There is information and advice for carers in the message boards, the website, twitter feeds and a free daily online newspaper.
In addition to the forum Chill4Us Carers also runs the very successful Computers4Carers service which has distributed over 400 refurbished computers, laptops and now new tablets to unpaid carers across Norfolk. Carers can often be very isolated at home, so a computer enabling reconnection to friends and family is very welcome and valued by the carers who have received them.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about carers and their needs, or explore how technologies can be used to deliver services more effectively, Discover Skills For Carers can help tailor an approach to suit your individual requirements. Registration is free and gives you access to a growing resource bank of skills and digital inclusion related e-learning materials, case studies and on-line carers support community. Discover is helping informal carers to use computers and the internet to embed digital technology in their day-to-day lives.
The Learning Disability Carers Group works with hard to reach Learning Disability carers across the UK. Through their online LD Community on Facebook and Twitter they help LD carers who lack the confidence, time, finances or transport, to be heard and supported without having to attend meetings. They provide specific information and advice service and help LD Carers with new ways of participating in the improvement, design and delivery of services. The services aim to also empower LD carers through training, self development, community leadership and digital inclusion opportunities.
CarersUK, the national membership charity for carers in the UK, have developed the Jointly app as a tool to make caring for someone a little easier. This iOS and Android app costs £2.99 to set up a 'circle of care' where you can organise the communication and coordination between those who share the care. The app includes facilities to record medications, appointments, tasks and contacts all designed to reduce the stress often felt when arranging care by family members and friends..
Action for Young Carers are a Nottingham based charity providing support for carers aged between 5 and 18 years old. In 2014 they launched their free app which provides much needed information and support services both for unidentified young carers as well as those already accessing the AYC services. The app can be used to submit self assessments and to receive news about meet-ups. It is available for iOS devices here and for Android devices here.
The Carers Federation is the parent charity of AYC providing support for carers of all ages and the people they look after across the UK. They also have an app which is on the iOS app store here and on Google Play for Android devices here. The app can be used to search for Support Groups, by postcode and keyword. It lists information containing details of local support groups, meeting times, a map to the venue and useful contacts.
If you know of any apps or websites that can be used by carers that we've missed please tell us in the comments below.
Connecting Care issues a monthly e-bulletin rounding up the latest technology and social care stories for providers of adult and social care. It's free for anyone interested in technology and adult social care.