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Sandwich caring families under pressure

29 November 2012

Sandwich generation parents are emotionally and financially overwhelmed by the pressures of raising children alongside caring for ageing relatives, new research from Carers UK reveals.

The research, which coincides with national Carers Rights Day, showed that four in ten (42%) sandwich carers were struggling to cope as their careers, family finances and relationships suffered.

Three quarters of sandwich carers surveyed for the research had seen a loss of earnings and 95% said the pressure affected their ability to work. As a result, more than half (52%) said the cost of caring for older relatives was squeezing family finances – even more than the number struggling with childcare costs (50%).

The pressure of simultaneously shouldering responsibility for young and old is also putting huge strains on family life - with two-thirds of sandwich carers reporting damage to their marriages or personal relationships.

Across the UK there are an estimated 2.4 million ‘sandwich carers’ - as around a fifth of 45 to 60-year-olds are actively supporting parents while their children are still at home.  To tackle this growing challenge, Carers UK is calling for care services and workplaces to adapt urgently to the changing shape of family life.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “An ageing population means that caring for older or disabled loved ones is inevitable for all our families. Care services and workplaces must catch up with this reality of family life. Currently, families too often cannot access the support they need and are finding themselves squeezed between childcare, care for older parents and work – under pressure from all sides, and seeing their finances, careers and personal relationships suffer.”

Just over half of carers (54%) juggled work and caring for children and older relatives, but a third had to give up work to meet the demands of their dual caring role. Women were four times more likely than men to have given up work to care.

Of those who continued to work, one in five (22%) found their jobs suffered through stress, tiredness and lateness. One in eight (13 per cent) had reduced their hours and 7% had to take a less qualified job.

Carers UK is calling for urgent reform of social care funding, measures to stimulate a new generation of affordable care services, effective use of technology to help families juggle work with caring responsibilities and advice and information to ensure families can access support.


Carers UK can provide spokespeople and sandwich caring case studies


  • Steve McIntosh 0207 378 4937 / 
  • Chloe Wright 0207 378 4942/ 
  • Out of hours mobile: 07875 724 088 or 07941 273 108.

Notes for Editors:

  • Carers UK Sandwich Caring Survey was conducted in October 2012 and surveyed a total 1,009 people who cared for at least one dependent child under the age of 18 and an older or disabled adult at the same time.
  • There are a total of over 6.4 million carers in the UK today. Every year over 2 million people become carers and by 2037 it is estimated there will be 9 million carers in the UK.
  • Carers UK supports the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick partner or a disabled family member, provides information and advice about caring and campaigns to make life better for carers.
  • Carers Rights Day, 30th November 2012, will see over 800 local groups across the UK running advice, information and support events. The theme this year is ‘Getting help in tough times’ – helping carers find financial help, get practical help and make the most of technology. Carers Rights Day is supported by Sainsbury’s, Tunstall Healthcare Ltd. and the Big Lottery Fund.
  • Carers UK is also launching a new version of Looking after someone – a guide to carers’ rights and entitlements, a comprehensive guide. The guide is available free to carers who can order a copy from Carers UK’s Adviceline on 0808 808 7777.
  • Employers for Carers is an innovative and growing service for employers, chaired by BT and supported by Carers UK. Its key purpose is to provide help to employers to support the one in seven carers in their workforce. Launched in 2009 there are now 60 members representing one million employers.
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