Carers UK has published its annual ‘State of Caring’ report. Based on a survey completed by 7,397 carers across the UK, this document provides a snapshot of what is happening in the world of unpaid/family caring. The report starts with:
‘It is frequently forgotten, or perhaps worse, taken for granted, that the majority of care provided doesn’t come from the NHS or from care homes. It comes in the form of unpaid care, which relatives, friends and neighbours provide’.
This needs to be remembered in all the current talk about delivery of health and social care services – the care provided by family carers needs to be the heart of debates.
Given the importance of carers to the sustainability of health and social care, it is disappointing to see that 4 in 10 of the respondents say they had not had a break in over a year and that many carers were finding it difficult to get a break.
There has been a 5% reduction nationally in carers getting support from their local authority. Charges for social care services are increasing and in many cases care packages are being reduced. Only 1 in 10 carers responding said they felt confident that the support they receive and rely on will continue. This means 9 out of 10 carers are worrying about what will happen in the future and wondering whether they can cope.
In this celebratory 70th anniversary year of the NHS, carers are giving the NHS a clear message:
- That staff routinely identify and support carers
- Carers are given the right information, training and equipment at the right time to enable carers to continue to care well and safely
- Carers should get proper breaks
- The carer’s expertise in caring should be acknowledged and they should be treated as partners in care. This was particularly relevant for older carers and people caring at end of life.
There seem to be some improvement in numbers getting Carers Assessments – 67% of respondents received an assessment. Parents of children with additional needs seem to have waited the longest period of time to get one.
Another increase is in the number of carers and people with care needs using technology to support caring and/or care. The carers least likely to be using technology were those with children who were caring for another family member (sandwich carers) or parent carers of children with additional needs.
Problems with money and making ends meet featured again – the low rate of Carers Allowance, as well as other issues, being seen as contributing to high levels of poverty.
Whilst 2.3 million carers in the UK give up work each year to care, many carers continue in paid work, often under difficult circumstances and with unsympathetic employers who do not offer the help and supported needed. A massive 96% of respondents said that caring had an impact on their capacity to do their job.
The report ends with these recommendations:
- Ensure that carers and our families do not suffer financial hardship as a result of caring
- Deliver an NHS 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 we are able to have a life alongside our caring duties
- Give us a break: provide funding and choice of quality services to enable carers to take the breaks we need
- Ensure carers are able to juggle work and care, if we wish to, with support to return to work alongside or after caring.
For more information, see the full report here: https://www.carersuk.org/images/Downloads/SoC2018/CUK-State-of-Caring-2018-REPORT-WEB.pdf
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Helena Bladon, Development Manager