He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
It’s thought there are around 1.7 million people in the UK who have grown up with a disabled brother or sister and campaigners believe that the work they do is often overlooked.
As reported in The Guardian, the UK’s only specialist charity for siblings of children with learning disabilities, Sibs, is demanding greater recognition for the work they do. Care professionals often fail to recognise the important role these people play in the lives of those who need care. The charity also believes these siblings need a national support network to help them.
The chief executive of Sibs, Monica McCaffrey, said: ‘We’re very concerned about the next raft of welfare cuts, people who don’t have critical or substantial need will have little or no support … siblings will have to ensure people are safe and we want them to have a voice within adult social care.’
She added that care providers and commissioners frequently underestimate the role played by these people. She highlighted the poor engagement from service providers and a lack of understanding of the important lifelong relationships between brothers and sisters.
Sibs is now developing support groups for adult siblings (they are already in place for younger siblings) and hope to set up more face-to-face peer support groups across the UK.
In these groups, siblings can share stories and information, learn about developments in care and new equipment, such as evac chairs. There’s even an online forum, funded by charitable donations, where those without access to these groups can discuss matters that are important to them. Subjects that have recently been trending on the forum include understanding mental capacity, guardianship and appointeeship, end-of-life planning and other ethical issues.
Sibs hope to increase awareness about the important role of siblings and make those in charge of the care sector realise what a huge untapped resource is available to them.
At a time when care budgets are being slashed and the focus on providing a better service with fewer resources, the care offered by brothers and sisters could be more important than ever before.