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The physical and mental strain of caring “jeopardising” the ability of unpaid carers in Northern Ireland to care in the future

07 June 2018

The physical and mental strain of caring “jeopardising” the ability of unpaid carers in Northern Ireland to care in the future, warns charities

Performing care tasks, not getting enough sleep and worrying about what the person they care for is eating and drinking named as top stressors for unpaid carers.

 Charities have come together to call for more support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.

Released for Carers Week 11th – 17th June, the research reveals:

Almost three quarters (70%) of carers in Northern Ireland said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring, while over half (56%) said their physical health had worsened.

Unless more support is provided, national charities are warning that carers in Northern Ireland won’t be healthy enough to care for loved ones in the future.

Carers worry about coping in the future

  • Over half of carers in Northern Ireland said they expect their physical (57%) and mental health and well-being (61%) to get worse in the next two years.
  • Two in five (40%) carers in Northern Ireland said that they expect to be be able to provide less care or no care in the future because of poor physical health. One third of carers (33%) felt that poor mental health would mean they will be able to provide less or no care in the future.

Main stressors for carers

Carers were most likely to say that the impact of stress and anxiety on their own health was their main worry about the impact of caring on their own health and wellbeing.

Carers named the main stressors contributing most to their stress and anxiety as providing hands on care for the person they care for, not getting enough sleep, and worrying about what the person they care for is eating and drinking.

Clare-Anne Magee, General Manager of Carers Northern Ireland, on behalf of Carers Week charities in Northern Ireland, said:

“We’re now into our second Carers Week without an Assembly in Northern Ireland and this latest research is a stark reminder that the enormous contribution made by Northern Ireland’s 220,000 unpaid carers must not be taken for granted. Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and social care system would collapse. The physical and mental strain of caring, without enough support, is jeopardising carers’ ability to care both now and in the future.

 Caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health; finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep  and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers.  Being left unprepared for carrying out care tasks and  battling with a complex health, benefits and care system are piling yet more stress onto carers.

 In the absence of an Assembly, more needs to be, and must be done, by policy-makers, health and social care providers, employers and the wider community in Northern Ireland to ensure carers here are recognised and supported not just with their caring role but in all aspects of their daily lives”

This year the Carers Week charities are calling on communities, health care professionals, employers, and the wider public to support carers to get connected to health and wellbeing services and support. The week-long celebration of the enormous contribution that unpaid carers make to our communities is also a time of intensive local activity, with awareness-raising events taking place across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Carers Week 2018 is made possible by Carers UK working together with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care, and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition. For more information, visit:

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