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Carers pushed to breaking point

11 September 2014

Carers across the UK are being pushed to the brink – suffering exhaustion, physical and mental breakdown as they struggle to care for older or disabled loved ones.

Carers UK’s Carers at breaking point research – based on a survey of over 5,000 carers1 – shows:

  • 6 in 10 caring for an older, disabled or seriously ill loved one have reached breaking point.
  • A quarter needing medical treatment as a result.
  • 63% suffered depression and 79% reported anxiety.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive, Carers UK said:

“For millions of families, caring for older or disabled loves ones means a daily battle with exhaustion, stress and anxiety. Carers reported exhaustion, suffering physical injury and collapsing from stress and anxiety as they struggled to care for ageing parents with conditions like dementia, severely disabled children or seriously ill partners. A fifth of carers were receiving no practical help at all – leaving them unable to take a break from caring or even get a good night’s sleep."

The report out today (11 September) also reveals:

  • For 1 in 9 carers who had suffered a breakdown, the person cared for had to be rushed to hospital or needed emergency social care while the carer recovered.
  • 46% in crisis had fallen ill but had no choice but to carry on caring – unable to access additional help from social care services or the NHS.

Carers UK has warned that even greater numbers of carers face crisis, as social care services in England are cut by £3.5 billion and carers’ benefits by £1 billion.

Heléna Herklots added:

“As our ageing population means a growing number of us will take on caring responsibilities for older or disabled loved ones, our society cannot afford for caring to result in breakdown. It brings costs to our health services when both carers and the person they care for end up in hospital and to our businesses and economy when carers have to leave work when they cannot get the support they need to combine work and caring.

“This is a challenge all political parties must respond to at the election: how will you act to support our families when we need to care for ageing parents or disabled loved ones?”

Carers UK is calling on all political parties to take urgent action to:

  • Deliver urgent new funding for social care services.
  • Place a duty on NHS bodies to identify and support carers.
  • End cuts to carers’ benefits and take urgent action to alleviate carers’ financial hardship.
  • Implement a right to paid ‘care leave’ for those combining work and care.

84% of respondents were caring for 35 hours a week or more.


Media contacts:

Steve McIntosh
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 0207 378 4937

Magie Stratton
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 0207 378 4936

Out of hours: 07875 724088 / 07811 344383


Note to Editors:

Carers UK is a charity led by carers, for carers – our mission is to make life better for carers.

  • We give expert advice, information and support
  • We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
  • We campaign together for lasting change
  • We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers

Facts about carers:

  • Across the UK there are 6.5 million people caring for a loved one who is older, seriously ill or disabled. This number is set to rise to 9 million by 2037.
  • Full-time carers are twice as likely to be in bad health as non-carers.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work at some point to care for older or disabled loved ones, and 3 million have cut working hours.
  • Over 1.4 million people care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Carers save the economy an estimated £119 billion per year with the unpaid care they provide, an average of £18,473 per carer.

Source: Facts about carers (2014) Carers UK

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