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What does ‘care’ mean to Irwin Mitchell?

This week (10 – 16 June) is National Carers Week. Hannah Clifford, a Solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s Serious Injury team in Birmingham and Cheryl Shore, a Support and Rehabilitation Coordinator at Irwin Mitchell, have answered questions around what care means to them. 

  1. What does care mean to you?


I think there is a common misconception about what care is and who can provide care. The reality is that many of us, in our lifetimes, have provided (or will provide) others with care and assistance in one way or another. Care can take place in many forms; such as helping somebody with their weekly food shop, preparing meals, collecting medication, helping with tasks around the house, all the way up to providing an individual with care and assistance all day. Individuals who may require care are individuals with disabilities, long term health conditions, mental health conditions and/or age-related frailty. This is, of course, a non-exhaustive list and there will be a wide range of reasons why an individual could require care. 

For me personally, I have a condition called rheumatoid arthritis. Generally, day to day, I do not require care and assistance, however over the years I have found myself needing help with picking things up, writing, opening things, driving, and preparing meals. All of that care has been provided by close family members and loved ones. 

As part of my role as a Solicitor, I have also had an insight into the pivotal role that carer’s play in our society. Irwin Mitchell represent many individuals who have experienced a life changing event such as an illness or an injury. This often disrupts their world in every way possible. We have individuals who may have never required any care or assistance, to now requiring a significant amount of care. Often, that care is provided by a family member until a fully paid care package can be provided. Whilst the family member providing care is not the individual who suffered an injury, their lives can be hugely impacted too. Many people can no longer work or have to reduce their hours at work in order to care for their family member. Our goal is to assist these families and to help secure funding for a full care package. 


Formal care usually refers to a paid care service provided by a health or social care organisation or individual for a person in need. Informal care refers to unpaid care provided by family or a social network. Formal caregivers are trained, but the extent of their training can vary. Community care services are planned to help people who need care and support to live with dignity and independence in the community.  The main aim in providing community care services is to enable people to remain living in their own homes and to retain as much independence as possible. Local authority social services provide community care services or arrange for them to be provided. 

Delivering person-centred care involves listening and respecting a persons’ views, wishes and feelings. People may feel they lose their autonomy when they receive care, which puts their dignity at risk. Upholding a person’s dignity and independence builds mutual respect. Therefore, It is important that care givers build good ongoing relationships putting the person at the centre alongside actively involving the person in all care-related decisions. By doing so it empowers people to maintain their independence and make their own decisions. 

  1. What do you think are the most common barriers to care?


There are, unfortunately, many barriers to individuals being able to access care. Below we have listed some of the common themes that we see in our roles:

  • Funding 
  • Resources
  • Staff turnover 
  • Waiting lists for assessments
  • The care recipient’s willingness to accept care
  • Social stigma 
  • Carer breakdown
  • Isolation – individuals who may not have many family/friends to help
  • Hard to reach communities – rural areas, lack of care in the community 
  • Difficulties with financial assessments

Care recipients should be able to live a fulfilling life and feel positively about their abilities, despite any adversity or challenges, however unfortunately the above barriers are very common issues that many individuals, and carers, are faced with.

  1. What is the role of the Support and Rehabilitation Coordinators?


Our Support and Rehabilitation Coordinators (SRC) are a diverse mix of clinical professionals and experts. Whilst solicitors investigate and manage a case from a legal perspective the SRC will support and guide clients through the maze of support services to support our client’s rehabilitation and promote financial physical and emotional wellbeing. 

I am a registered social worker, with 20 years of experience in providing care and support in the community, supporting people who are socially excluded or who are experiencing problems in their lives. Having worked in a wide range of settings, including hospital and community-based services with both adult and paediatric clients, has provided me with real insight and valuable experience into differing client groups and their varying needs. This has fuelled my passion and drive to provide the best support for clients, and I remain committed to the delivery of good flexible care and choice which is pivotal to achieving the best possible outcomes for clients. 

Following a traumatic injury or illness, it can be difficult to accept what's happened and understand what the future may hold. It can be overwhelming and difficult to understand the function of each service, what services are required and what could help. Often clients are in unfamiliar territory and don’t know where to start and this is where we can guide, signpost and advocate for clients to ensure they get the right care and rehabilitation at the right time. 

Our aim is to support individuals and their families through adjustments and life changes, working closely with clinical and care professionals, local authorities, charities, and the NHS. Our friendly team provides a confidential service that is tailored to meet individual’s needs and at no extra cost.

Every client, their injuries and their needs are different, and our approach is bespoken to them in terms of how and where we can support to get the best outcomes and results for them and their families. 

The SRC team and the support they provide is unique and helps us holistically support our clients and their families with all the challenges they may face after an injury or illness.

  1. Why is consistent care important?


A consistent carer who provides ongoing care can understand and advocate for the individual’s needs, choices, and routines.  Care givers gain insight into a person and their needs which allows the individual to feel understood and comfortable. Being understood can shift a perspective—from feeling invisible to feeling visible, from feeling down to feeling uplifted, from feeling hopeless to hopeful.  Familiarity creates trust and a sense of stability and reliability. 

Care consistency also allows carers to pick up on any changes in a person’s condition that ad hoc care may miss. Their understanding and knowledge enable them to report any concerns ensuring that issues are addressed promptly.  Additionally, a familiar face reduces unease and provides reassuring continuity and is especially crucial for those with cognitive impairments who may struggle with new faces and environments. This collaborative relationship centred on trust and respect promotes better care outcomes.

It must also be noted that care needs can change and evolve due to injury or illness. When care and support needs are no longer meeting the needs of client, the SRC team can support clients to help ensure the appropriate care is provided. This can also include referring to our Welfare Benefits team to ensure all eligible benefits entitlements are in place.


In addition to the points mentioned above, it is also important to remember that care in one arena may help function in another. For example, if an individual receives consistent care at home, then the individual may have the support and assistance they require in order to be able to work or undertake their desired tasks and activities. 

We hope that this article has helped to show the vital service that carers provide, as well as the wide-ranging role of a carer. Carers work incredibly hard to help individuals at the most difficult times of their lives but unfortunately their contribution often goes unnoticed. As such, we would like to finish this article by taking this opportunity to say thank you to the nation’s carers. We are grateful for the selflessness, patience and resilience you display each day.