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Reduced services see unpaid carers in Scotland pushed to the limit - and desperately worried about winter

by Fiona Collie 16 October 2020
  • 87% of unpaid carers in Scotland providing more care for relatives
  • 80% reported that the needs of the person they care for have increased during the pandemic
  • 72% worried about further lockdowns
  • Carers Scotland calls on the Scottish Government to provide additional financial support to carers and to help reinstate crucial support services as soon as possible

Unpaid carers in Scotland are going without  vital services, whilst providing many hours of additional care for loved ones with increasing needs, new research by Carers Scotland reveals.

This is at a critical point in the Covid-19 pandemic when more restrictions are being put in place, and many expect life to become more difficult over the winter months.

Previous research by the charity in April showed the majority of unpaid carers immediately took on more care for their older, disabled or seriously ill relatives through the lockdown.

Six months later, 87% of unpaid carers in Scotland report that they are still providing more care than before the lockdown.

Almost three quarters (72%) are worried about how they will cope if further lockdowns or local restrictions were introduced.

In a survey of 725 unpaid carers in Scotland, 40% said they are providing more care because the needs of the person they look after have increased. Many cited the detrimental impact of the national lockdown on their relatives’ physical and mental health.

Nearly half of unpaid carers (45%) in Scotland are providing more care because their local services have been significantly reduced or closed. Covid-19 infection and control restrictions mean most day services are operating at a reduced capacity and some have not opened at all.

More than three quarters of carers (77%) said they are exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during the pandemic. Two thirds (65%) told Carers Scotland they hadn’t been able to take any breaks whatsoever in the last six months.

 Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said:

“The pandemic has placed intolerable pressure on carers in Scotland, who are caring round the clock for loved ones with little or no outside support. They are worn out.

“Carers are desperately worried about how they will manage over the winter and in the face of further lockdowns and tightening of restrictions.

“Our research shows that carers are breaking down, struggling without a break for months on end. It is vital that essential support such as day services and short breaks are reinstated safely and as soon as possible.”

Carers Scotland is also calling on the Scottish Government to provide a second Coronavirus Payment as part of the Carers Allowance Supplement in December, to help cover the extra costs that caring will inevitably incur over winter. It is also calling on the Scottish Government to offer dedicated, ring-fenced funding for carers facing hardship.

The charity wants to see the vital role of unpaid carers clearly recognised and involved in decisions on the rebuilding, and delivery, of health and social care going forward.

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 Media contacts

  • Simon Hodgson, Director: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Tel: 0141 445 3070 / 07582464752
  • Fiona Collie, Policy & Public Affairs Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Tel: 0141 445 3070 / 07967826238

About the research

Carers UK carried out an online survey between 11th and 28th September 2020. A total of 5,904 carers and former carers responded to the survey. This included 5,583 current carers and 321 former carers. Compared to the carer population as a whole, respondents to this survey were more likely to be female and caring for a high number of hours every week. As not all respondents completed every question in the survey, a number of the figures given in this report, including those presented here, are based upon responses from fewer than 5,904 carers.

63% live in England, 13% live in Scotland, 10% live in Wales and 14% live in Northern Ireland.

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