Care Workers are vital. We are the eyes and ears on the ground. We know how much Mrs Smith normally eats and sleeps, if she's been this confused before, if she's in more pain than usual. We know what doctors need to know in order to make a diagnosis. We can mean the difference between prevention and cure.
As I write we are coming towards the end of carers' week 2014. Hopefully you will have been caught up in the influx of data being spread your way about how much carers save the economy each year (about £119bn - you're welcome) and heard some stories from carers about what they do and how they manage.
The world can feel like a scary place for any young person striding out on their own for the first time. Thrust into a world of greatly increased responsibility, the transition to adulthood is a challenging time. For most young people there is a support network to help them through this period. They fall back on the support of their family and friends; they learn and adapt. However, for young people leaving the care system this support is sadly often limited or non-existent. All too frequently they are left to fend for themselves without the necessary skills or even a suitable place to live.
What might be better than a marriage tax allowance? For a start, what about increased access to relationship counselling? Something which might actually help save a struggling relationship. Unlike the proposed marriage tax break which even David Cameron acknowledges won't stop anyone from getting a divorce.
The Care Bill aims to put carers on an equal legal footing to those they care for. This is great news for carers. Now that the stages in Parliament are all but over, we start to look at what this all means in practice. Developing the right regulations is a complex job but vital if we want the new law to mean real change for carers.
When I hear that the government is advising schools to be sensitive to the needs of 'young carers' and give them the time off from their education so they can look after mum, I just want to scream. I strongly believe parents have a responsibility to be parents regardless of how incapacitated they are.
Just as it is cruel to deprive the elderly of food or medication, it is cruel to accept the current state of social isolation. We could ask why these lonely people's families are not more involved or go down the Chinese government route of 'forcing' people to visit their elderly parents but the reality is that people are naturally occupied with making a living and raising their own young.
I would define a personal assistant as someone independent directly employed by a person who is capable of directing them and requires care and/or support tasks to be performed...The person has to be employed rather than self-employed, which has been a bone of contention between myself and the government who believes it does not matter how people are employed.
As part of our #MakeCareFair campaign to end 15 minute care, we have conducted a confidential survey with care workers up and down the country. They have told us it is impossible to carry out everyday tasks such as feeding, bathing and supporting someone to get dressed with any decency or consideration in this short time slot.
Stress is not a new concept, but we live in an age which is constantly creating fresh varieties of angst to add to our mental in-tray. Caring doesn't sound like it should be one of those in-tray items. But when we become 'carers' and the demands are persistent, even relentless, then the challenges mount.
Having a conversation may not seem like a luxury, but there is a point when it can become too late to talk, and you just never know if or when that point may come. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority never had a full and frank discussion with their loved ones about dementia, their wishes for care and their future planning.