WIRRAL NHS Community Foundation Trust chief executive Karen Howell writes for the Globe ...

IT'S National Carers Week and a chance to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contribution that carers make to Wirral society, as well as to highlight what we can do to support them.

Carers come from all walks of life. Some care for people full time, some part time.

Some juggle their caring responsibilities with jobs and families.

Many never imagined they would end up in a caring role, or don't even recognise that they are carers.

Here at Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, our clinicians and social care staff witness first hand every day the compassion, strength and tenacity local carers have.

But we also recognise the many challenges carers can face.

Indeed, I was a carer for seven years, caring for my Grandmother.

Holding down a full-time job, studying and having a family with a small child takes navigation, organisation and a tenacious and resilient spirit.

However, we all have our off days and occasionally our really bad days when it is easy to feel isolated, miserable and exhausted.

However it can also be, and was for me, a very rewarding experience.

It was a special time for my Gran's and my relationship, which I will treasure always.

So if you're a carer it is so important that you also take care of yourself.

Make sure your doctor and other healthcare professionals are aware of your caring responsibilities.

If you are employed, check with your employer about flexible working options.

You can also get a benefit check to see if there is extra money you can claim.

Every year significant numbers of carers are forced to stop caring because of illness or injury.

Yet, in many cases, this could be prevented with better access to information and guidance about services or support they may be entitled to.

As a carer, you can have an assessment to see if you are eligible for any support for you.

Our social care staff will carry out an assessment which looks at your needs, not the needs of the person you are caring for.

It examines your own health and wellbeing, your ability to continue to provide care, the impact that caring has on your own life and whether you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to.

A person can ask for the carers assessment themselves, or on behalf of someone they know.

If you would like a carers assessment or you would like to find out if a carer you know is entitled to any help or support, contact our Central Advice and Duty Team on 0151 514 2222 (option 3).

For lots more information and advice about help and support for Wirral carers, you can also call the Wired (Wirral Information resource for Equality and Diversity) carers helpline 0151 670 0777.

Or come along to St Catherine’s Health Centre between 10am and 3pm on Friday, when Wired will be offering information and advice.