Unpaid carers in Wiltshire are now able to obtain a letter confirming their caring responsibilities to take with them when visiting the supermarket.
Carer Support Wiltshire, with the backing of Wiltshire Council, have written to supermarkets asking that unpaid carers are given access to protected shopping hours set aside for vulnerable groups. They have also requested that carers are able to bring the person they care for to the shop with them if that is necessary.
Nearly 50,000 people in Wiltshire are unpaid carers, looking after a friend or family member who has an illness, disability or health condition. Many unpaid carers have been plunged into despair during the current crisis as support groups and other local services they rely on for respite have closed and paid carers who help them out may be visiting less often due to staff shortages.
Judy Walker, Chief Executive at Carer Support Wiltshire said: “Supermarket shopping is a concern that many carers have told us about since the lockdown began. We know that leaving the house and obtaining shopping and other necessary supplies is something that is causing anxiety for many carers. We’ve heard from carers who have been refused entry to supermarkets as they’ve had to bring their loved one with them, because their loved one has dementia and cannot stay at home or in the car unattended.
“It can be difficult enough getting a person with a condition such as dementia dressed and out of the house. To then be refused entry to the supermarket is incredibly stressful and humiliating.
“Having a letter that confirms their identity as a carer and ensuring that supermarkets are aware of these issues we feel will really help carers feel confident and ease anxiety when leaving the home.”
Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “Unpaid carers are doing such a valuable job for our communities in very difficult circumstances, and anything that takes the pressure off and makes their lives a little easier is very welcome.
“This will also help the supermarkets and we thank them as they continue to support their vulnerable customers to get access to the supplies they need.”
Carer Support Wiltshire are also able to provide carers with a notice to put on their car, informing others that they are a carer. It is hoped this will especially help those who are travelling to provide care and drop off supplies to someone living in a different household to themselves.
According to a recent study of over 5,000 carers carried out by Carers UK, 70% of unpaid carers are providing more care due to the coronavirus crisis and 55% feel overwhelmed as a result.
Carers should confirm with individual supermarkets that they are offering access for unpaid carers to protected shopping slots before they visit.
Anyone who is registered as an unpaid carer with Carer Support Wiltshire can contact the organisation now on 0800 181 4118 and request the letter and/or a notice for their car. Anyone not registered can call the same number to register, or visit the website www.carersupportwiltshire.co.uk to register today.