This week is Carers Week. A week to appreciate and say ’ thank you’ to the thousands of unpaid family members and friends who provide help and support every day,  often at great cost to their health and well being. We’ve so much to thank Carers for every year, but this year, unpaid Carers deserve our thanks and gratitude even more than ever.  But they deserve more than that – they need things to change so their role is valued and they are properly supported.

Research by Carers Scotland shows that since Covid 19 started, an extra 392,000 people in Scotland are caring for older disabled or seriously ill relatives of friends. This is on top of the 829,000 unpaid carers in Scotland already caring before the outbreak. That makes a total of 1,1 million Unpaid Carers in Scotland.  Many carers are supporting loved ones from afar, others are food shopping, collecting medicine, managing finances and providing reassurance and emotional support. Some carers have very intense caring roles, including providing personal care, moving people round the home and administering medication. Almost 60% of these new carers are juggling caring with paid work and they will need help as they return to work. You can read the research HERE.


We’ve seen the impact on carers in East Lothian too and caring for people with dementia brings particular demands. I’ve taken a growing number of phone calls and e mails from carers at the end of their tether,  desperate for respite, urgently needing assistance with growing needs for care, unable to go out or meet friends or get support.  Loved ones go into care homes that carers have never seen and can’t visit. Many carers are dealing with their own health problems and often shielding.  Shockingly, some carers have been criticised in public for buying too much shopping, challenged over the behaviour of the person with dementia who is confused about not being able to touch people or walk at will and stopped by the police for driving outwith their area.  Too many carers have had to take really tough decisions about breaching social distancing rules to support the person with dementia, wanting to obey the rules and do the right thing but unable to manage really challenging situations.  

Of course not everyone has had it this tough,  families and communities have rallied round. Carers and everyone in need can get help with shopping and prescriptions from local Community Emergency Resilience Response Teams, befriending by phone is available from a range of local, county and national bodies (see below) and for those who can get online there is no shortage of entertainment, socialising and learning opportunities.


We wanted to find out more about the reality of caring for someone with dementia in East Lothian. Our survey launched for Carers Week, will run for as long as carers want to give their views.  We’re asking very simple questions and we’ve started to get some responses in; life can be tough:

What’s life like for you as a carer?

  • Lonely. You don’t know what other carers deal with and you always feel you should do better
  • I miss getting out and about, seeing other people. Life can be frustrating and exasperating. Concern for xxxx. Feeling bound by limits of impact of disease. Thank goodness for gardens, sunshine and lovely East Lothian.
  • Relentless, unpredictable, exhausting, lonely, Confidence de-skilling, often unsupported and unheard

What would make a difference?

  • A couple of hours a day free from caring, just to relax and see a friend. That might sound a lot but it still leaves 22 hours of living on egg shells.
  • Being able to hug and touch my husband.
  • Time to myself

We’re hoping also to get more in depth information and stories from carers that we can use to help influence decisions about support for carers and to make a real difference.

We’ve stood and clapped for carers, including all the unpaid carers who often fall off the list. Now’s the time to make sure that Unpaid Carers get the respect and help they really deserve and to bring services, decision makers and communities together to really make our carers know they are valued and supported.

How can you help?

We can all support carers by thinking twice before criticising someone or judging people as they struggle to cope. We can volunteer locally to help shop, or befriend.  You can let  people know that help is available and encourage carers to get the support they deserve and need.

If you’re a carer or know someone who is, please ask them to fill in our survey and make sure they know about the help and support available to them.


Thank you to Dorset Carers Centre for this lovely idea!


A big thank you to Unpaid Carers, all ages, all places, whoever you care for, whatever you do. We owe your our gratitude and practical support. We need to care for you too.

Take care, stay safe




Where you can get help:

If you’re an unpaid carer and need help, there is help around for all carers, all ages. East Lothian Council can connect Carers to local Community Emergency Resilience Response Teams, operating across East Lothian and able to help with shopping, prescriptions and other every day help.You can also talk to them about other problems.  Phone:  01875 824300 between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, Monday to Friday. E

Alzheimer Scotland: Helpline: 

Michael Huddleston


Tel: 0131 654 1114

Mobile: 07831 859490

Carers of East Lothian (COEL)

Email: (

Tel: 0131 665 0135

Dementia Friendly East Lothian (DFEL)

E mail:

Tel: 07727 883881 

East Lothian Council 

Phone:  01875 824300 between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, Monday to Friday. E mail

East Lothian Young Carers 

Tel: 01620 826558

E mail:

Age Scotland: Helpline

Solicitors for Older People, Scotland 

Tel: 0800 152 2037.

E mail: via website:



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