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Carers suffering due to lack of support

07 June 2013

•    75% were unprepared for caring role
•    81% said they were not aware of the support available
•    61% of carers have experienced depression
•    92% of carers say they feel more stressed because of their caring role

Carers Week 2013 10th – 16th June- Prepared to Care?

New research from Carers Week has revealed that carers are being woefully let down by a lack of support when they take on a caring role. The findings from the report, Prepared to Care? show that support is not being made available to new carers with often devastating consequences.

Released to coincide with the launch of Carers Week 2013, the findings from a survey of over 2,100 carers show that 75% of carers were unprepared for all aspects of caring. A further 81% of carers say they were not aware of the support available1 and 35% believe they were given the wrong advice about the support on offer2.

The research goes on to outline the huge emotional, physical and financial effects that caring can have as people are not prepared for the impact of their caring role.

There are around 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK3 and over 500,000 carers in Scotland.  With a further 500 people in Scotland take on a new caring role every day4, the charities within the Carers Week partnership are calling for the Scottish Government, GPs and health and social care professionals to ensure that more support is given to carers from day one.

Impact of caring

The survey shows that carers often struggle to balance work and their caring responsibilities, with 45% of carers saying they had to give up work.

The results also highlight how carers’ physical, emotional and mental wellbeing can suffer. 61% of carers have experienced depression and nearly all carers surveyed (92%) say they feel more stressed because of their caring role.

The survey also emphasised the strain that caring can put on people’s relationships. 52% of respondents have experienced difficulties in their relationship with their partner and 61% have found it difficult to maintain friendships.

Simon Hodgson, Director for Carers Scotland, commented: “The impact of caring for a loved one or friend is an issue that we simply cannot ignore. Every day across the country, 6,000 people take on new caring responsibilities and too often they face the challenges of caring without support. Becoming a carer can happen overnight and without information and guidance, carers can be left feeling isolated and alone.

“The figures clearly show that carers aren’t being offered support and if they are, it can often be wrong or not the full information. The consequences for carers are huge, so it’s vital that GPs, health and social care professionals and the government all play a role to ensure that carers are offered the support they deserve from day one.”

Senga Mackay who cares full time for her husband Gordon, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), explains the difference it made when eventually she found the support she needed.  “I had been trying to manage on my own for years, but I knew that I needed help”. On moving to East Lothian, they were offered support almost straight away and now carers arranged by the Council come to help look after Gordon several times a week. “We didn’t have to wait long for anything. There have also been times when the carers come earlier or on different days so I can help look after my grandchildren in Glasgow. The Council is always very flexible. They take my needs and our situation into account and that has made such a difference to me”.
 
Carers flagged as part of the survey that they would have benefitted from better support and information from day one. As part of the report, Prepared to Care? carers stated what would have made a difference to their experience , they included:

1.    Better public understanding and recognition of carers
2.    Access to information and the right support from the beginning
3.    Professionals understanding the role of carers and sharing information, decision making and planning with them.
4.    Access to high quality practical and emotional support and information as well as breaks from caring
5.    Flexible working practices and understanding from employers
6.    Financial support and a fair and easy to navigate welfare system


- ENDS -

Notes for editors:

1.    The Carers Week partners in Scotland can provide journalists with case studies and media spokespeople. For media enquiries, please contact Sarah Ritchie at the MS Society in Scotland on 0131 335 4048 or 07554 116105 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2.    Copies of the report, Prepared to Care?  are available at www.carersweek.org

3.    Carers Week is delivered by a partnership of national charities – Age UK, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK and supported by the Stroke Association and Bupa’s Carewell. In 2013 it is sponsored by Sainsbury’s Plc and the sector skills council in England, Skills for Care.

4.    Carers Week takes place to recognise and celebrate the UK’s 6.5 million carers and encourage them to access the support, advice and information they need that can help improve their lives and the people they care for.  There are 660,000 carers in Scotland

5.    Over 2,300 organisations take part in Carers Week, including local charities and voluntary organisations, hospitals, hospices and care homes and a growing number of employers.

6.    Carers Week surveyed 2,115 carers between March and May 2013. The majority of respondents completed the survey online, with eight respondents completing paper versions. 1,303 of the respondents were from England, 75 from Northern Ireland, 151 from Scotland and 92 from Wales (the remainder did not state their location).

7.    Keep up to date with campaign developments at
www.carersweek.org  
www.facebook.com/carersweek      
Twitter @carersweek

References

  1. 52% of carers were definitely not aware of support available and 29% were partly not aware of support available
  2. 16% of carers were definitely given wrong advice about support available and 19% were partly given wrong advice about support available
  3. 2011 Census figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland including projected figure from Valuing Carers 2011 for Scotland
  4. Carers UK (2006) In the Know. The importance of information for carers
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