Carers Week 2022 is underway (6th-12th June), with new research being released which shows the rising pressures on unpaid carers and the struggles they face.
Carers Week charities are calling for an urgent 12-month plan of targeted support for unpaid carers. Public backing for greater support for carers is also growing. Many carers struggle with the ongoing pressures of the pandemic as well as the strain on the social care system and the cost-of-living crisis.
For the first time, the impact of caring on physical and mental health has topped the concerns of carers, closely followed by worries about money. 4.68 million unpaid carers are concerned for their physical and mental wellbeing.
The research shows that 84% of the general public agree the UK government should provide additional support for unpaid carers. This is in the form of financial support and investment in care and support services. Only 3% of those surveyed disagreed. The report shows 2.2 million carers are worried about their ability to cope financially.
The report also showed the number of unpaid carers is still higher than before the pandemic. One in five UK adults is now supporting a relative, neighbour or close friend due to chronic illness. These include mental ill-health, dementia, disability or old age. This is approximately 10.58 million people across the UK.
The levels of care have also intensified since the pandemic. This may be due to many services remaining partially or completely closed, people who are vulnerable continuing to shield wherever possible and the pressures on the healthcare system. The shortage of social care staff is also a big issue. The number of people providing over 50 hours of care per week has risen by 30%.
Commenting on behalf of Carers Week charities, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“Clearly, whilst society has opened up for many people, it’s a very different picture for significant numbers of carers.
“So many have sacrificed their physical and mental health caring for their loved ones over the last two years and as this report clearly shows, it is absolutely essential that carers get the support they need to stay well to be able to continue to care for their loved ones, that working carers are helped to stay in employment and that all carers can feel visible, valued and supported.”
Do you have experience with the pressures on unpaid carers? We’d like to know your story – feel free to comment below.