It can be an extremely stressful and difficult time when a loved one is affected by bipolar. Getting professional and peer support is paramount to both their recovery and ongoing wellbeing. But do families and carers know what information they are entitled to so they can support their loved one?

Last year Bipolar UK collaborated with Hafal, Diverse Cymru, Carers Wales and Crossroads Care Mid and West Wales in a long-standing partnership, focusing on support for carers in Wales. The 2016 Big Carers' Tea Break campaign highlighted the need for carers to be receiving good quality carers' assessments, helping carers become more empowered, and to ensure a collective voice of carers is heard.

The campaign reached 20,000 individuals and there were many key concerns that carers expressed, including:

  • Carers say they need more information on which services are available in their local area and who they can contact in an emergency or crisis situation.
  • Carers have told us that they feel excluded from the care and treatment provided to their loved one by health and social care professionals. This is the case for community and hospital care as carers say they are not involved enough, especially when their loved ones are going to be discharged.
  • Carers also tell us that they are not given sufficient information regarding the care and treatment of their loved one, with professionals citing confidentiality as the reason. This prevents carers from understanding important information about the challenges their loved ones may face and how best to deal with them.
  • Carers have spoken about the unacceptable standard of inpatient services. Ward environments are frequently described as frightening places and carers feel there is little happening in hospitals to aid recovery and meet people's basic needs.
  • Carers say as a result of ignoring their concerns, the person they care for often deteriorates to an extent that they are in need of crisis services or are sectioned/admitted to hospital.

There are many recommendations made from this campaign, including making better use of carers' assessments and recruiting Carers Champions for every Welsh Heath Board. They can be found in the full report of The Big Carers' Tea Break.

If you're a carer, family member or friend and would like to talk to someone about supporting a loved one with bipolar, please get in touch with us on 0333 323 3880. We can provide support through our services, including our Support Line, Support Groups, and our eCommunity.

Read the full report about The Big Carers' Tea Break.

Find out how to contact Bipolar UK for support and advice about bipolar.