Only one in ten (10%) of those caring unpaid for a relative or friend feel confident that the support they receive and rely upon will continue. Half of unpaid carers (50%) said they expect their quality of life to get worse in the next 12 months with only 8% saying they expect it to get better.
Further findings from the charity, Carers UK, suggest these fears are not unfounded. The research found that for one in seven carers (15%), either them or those they care for, received less support from care services during the previous year due to a reduction in the amount of support from social services, a service closing without being replaced or an increase in costs. This was despite carers saying that needs had either stayed the same or increased.
The new research, State of Caring 2018, carried out with nearly 7000 people currently caring unpaid for loved ones and released today paints a worrying picture of families under immense strain and an underfunded social care system that is really taking its toll on families.
Carers report that they are struggling to manage financially, look after their own health and keep their careers. Over a third of carers (37%) described their financial situation as ‘struggling to make ends meet’, while a further 20% said they are in or have been in debt as a result of caring.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“This year, 70 years of the National Health Service is being celebrated across the UK. It is imperative that the huge contribution made by unpaid carers is also recognised. The care provided by unpaid carers in the UK is worth an estimated £132 billion per year – more than the NHS’s annual budget in England. Despite the fact that the NHS and social care sector rely heavily on family and friends, we know that carers feel devastatingly undervalued and unsupported. Our research shows that carers are becoming increasingly fearful about coping in the future due to services they rely on being cut and a general lack of support.
“As we look at the future of our health and care system, it is essential that relatives and friends who are the backbone of care in the UK are identified, valued and supported without exception. More attention needs to be paid to the priorities identified by carers in the State of Caring 2018 report, including the urgent need for access to affordable, high quality care services, financial support, regular breaks from caring and stronger workplace rights to support people to combine work and care if they wish to.”
Carers UK is urging national governments to take the lead in coordinating action across national and local government, the NHS and employers. It is crucial that immediate action is taken to make a difference to carers’ lives and achieve the following:
- Ensure that carers and their families do not suffer financial hardship as a result of caring.
- Deliver a National Health Service that recognises, values and supports carers.
- Put in place enough funding so that older people and people with disabilities are able to access the quality and affordable care they need and that carers are able to have a life alongside caring roles.
- Give carers a break and provide funding and a choice of quality services to enable carers to take the breaks they need.
- Ensure carers are able to juggle work and care, if they wish to, with support to return to work alongside or after caring.
Read the full report here