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Years of missing out on support taking its toll on the health and finances of those caring for loved ones in Scotland

25 November 2016

Those looking after older or disabled loved ones in Scotland are missing out on vital practical and financial support with disastrous consequences for their own health and finances, according to new findings released today (25 November) on Carers Rights Day by Carers UK.  People often don’t see themselves as carers and aren’t identified and as a result miss out on support. Half of carers in Scotland (51%) surveyed said missing out on support as a result of not identifying as a carer impacted negatively on their finances and a similar number (50%) said it had an impact on their physical health.

New research published today ‘Missing Out: the identification challenge’ [1] also reveals that in Scotland:

  • More than half of people (56%) took over a year to recognise their caring role, almost one in four (26%) took over 5 years to identify as a carer.
  • Some groups of carers, such as those caring for disabled children or people with mental health conditions, or caring at a distance, take longer than average to identify their role

Carers Scotland is using Carers Rights Day to reach as many of the 759,000 carers in Scotland as possible with information about their rights and the financial and practical help they are entitled to; including benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, respite and access to equipment and technology which can help them in their caring role.

On a positive note, the research suggests there has been an increase, of 10%, in the number of people across the UK who recognised their caring role within the first year of caring. Nearly half (46%) of those who responded to this question compared to 36% of people in 2006; showing the difference that public awareness campaigns and support provided by Carers UK and others has made.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said:

Many people, looking after an ill, older or disabled loved one do not recognise themselves as carers, instead saying that it is ‘just something you do’. However, not recognising you are carrying out a caring role can be a barrier to accessing the financial and practical support available. The longer it takes to identify as a carer, the more likely it is that carers will struggle without the support and advice they need. Frontline professionals, such as GPs, teachers and social workers, play a central role in ensuring carers and young carers are identified and then signposted to support as early as possible in their caring journey.”

Carers Scotland is calling for:

  • New and continuing duties on the NHS and education professionals to put in place policies to identify carers and to promote their health and well-being.
  • Development of education, information and training for a range of frontline professionals to increase knowledge and signposting of carers
  • Improved access to information and advice for carers
  • A public awareness campaign to improve understanding and recognition of carers

Carers Scotland, as part of Carers UK, has developed a range of tools to help carers early in their caring journey get the information and support they need:

  • Upfront, the first online guide of its kind gives tailored financial and practical information to those who are new to caring.
  •  ‘Looking after someone’, its annual guide to carers’ rights and the practical and financial support available.
  • For more information about the financial and practical support available for carers, click here 

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Carers UK website www.carersuk.org/missingout

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