What would make the most difference to a carers’ health and wellbeing?  (Does this sound familiar?)

  • Access to regular breaks
  • Good quality care services for the person you care for
  • Better income

This is what respondents in  the Carers UK research tells us.  It is no surprise.  It is also no surprise to know that carers find it increasingly difficult to remain in work, or that carers are more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression than other people who do not having a caring role.   Or that over two thirds of carers said that their GP knows they are a carer, but they don’t do anything as a result.

This report collects together a whole range of data on the caring experience.  It tells us that

  • Those spending 50 hours a week or more caring were most likely to report they had not had a day off from caring for over a year
  • Parent carers appear to be the group of carers most likely to experience high levels of stress and to feel that their need for regular breaks from caring was not thoroughly considered in assessments.
  • Over half of the carers who had experienced hospital discharge over the last year said that they were either not consulted about the discharge, or only consulted at the last minutes. Worryingly, 17% said that the person with care needs  was discharged without support  available for them  to be at home.   On the other hand, many carers said that the person they cared for was in hospital for too long because appropriate care and support in the community was not in place.
  • Financial problems for carers were common with 30% of carers saying they have had to use their savings to manage financially, 26% relied on credit cards and 23% on bank overdrafts to get by.

Overall, the report acknowledges the huge contribution made by carers  to the lives of those they care for and to wider society.  Carers ‘ provide invaluable support often at personal cost to their own mental and physical wellbeing, their relationships with family and friends and to their own needs.  Yet the majority of carers report feeling that their contribution is not understood and is not valued.’

As a local organisation, Carers Leeds is committed to promoting the importance of the role of carers in every possible forum – in public settings, in major institutions such as the NHS and local authority and in private sector organisations and employers.  However, the national profile of carers is critical to the understanding and appreciation of the contribution made.

A new national policy document on social care, which will include policy on support for carers, is due.  We can only hope that this will provide meaningful  structure and support for carers over the next few years.

Helena Bladon – Development Manager