An elderly woman out with her unpaid carer

Carers week marked by report launch

Carers UK has published a new report, marking the beginning of Carers Week 2024.

With the theme for this year’s Carers Week being ‘Putting carers on the map’ the report outlines how millions of unpaid carers don’t get a choice as to whether or not they take on that role. This comes thanks to a lack of alternative care options for their disabled, ill, or older relatives or friends.

After polling almost 6,500 members of the public, the report found that 62% of current and former unpaid carers had no choice in the matter. On the flip side to this, 29% said that other care options were available to them, but they chose to take on the role of unpaid carer.

The report also identified many in the role are taking a heavy toll when it comes to their wellbeing, with many respondents saying that the impact of providing unpaid care was more negative that it was positive. The biggest impacts come across those who did not have a choice in becoming an unpaid carer, with respect to the following:

  • Mental health – 70%
  • Physical health – 60%
  • Job and ability to work – 56%
  • Finances and savings – 54%
  • Relationships – 43%
Unpaid carers quote

Chief Executive of Carers UK, Helen Walker, said:

“These findings demonstrate how caring can have a profound effect on every aspect of life and wellbeing, from mental and physical health, being able to work, or affecting their future income including pensions. That’s why we need to see a future government deliver action across government, in the form of a National Carers Strategy. With an ageing population, this is becoming ever more important.

“Carers Week is an important annual opportunity to ‘put carers on the map’. We want unpaid carers to know they are not forgotten, and they are not alone. Many are at breaking point, facing huge challenges with their caring responsibilities. On top of this they are struggling to manage their own health and wellbeing. Carers are worried about their long-term health, security and ability to care in the future.”

Across a number of other findings, the report found that many unpaid carers do not feel supported in their role, with a lack of support from health and social care services. This comes despite unpaid carers saving the economy around £162 million every year, which is the equivalent of a second NHS.

The Local Government Association has responded to the publication of Carers UK’s report, with Chairman of the Community Wellbeing Board Cllr Davd Fothergill saying:

“Councils recognise the enormous contribution of unpaid carers who provide vital support for thousands of people every day. Helping councils to better support unpaid carers should be a crucial part of a long-term and sustainable funding solution for social care.

 

“Our Local Government White Paper calls for more support for unpaid carers and a renewed focus on prevention and it is crucial that whoever forms the next government should work to support them to continue their vital role. Investing more in early action is fundamental to ensuring someone can continue living independently in the home and community they love.”

 

Image credit: iStock

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