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Scotland’s unpaid carers twice as anxious

by Fiona Collie 10 June 2019
  • Unpaid carers in Scotland report significantly poorer wellbeing
  • Urgent support needed for the nation’s 788,000 carers
  • Charities come together to call for step change in the way society supports those caring unpaid for family and friends

Unpaid carers in Scotland looking after loved ones living with an illness, disability, mental health condition or as they grow older report being twice as anxious as the Scottish general public, new figures show.

Research released for Carers Week 2019 (10th 16th June) also reveals carers in Scotland are a third (39 per cent) less satisfied with life compared with the rest of the Scottish population. Scottish carers also reported their happiness levels are a third (37 per cent) lower.

The extent of poor wellbeing amongst carers is revealed amongst the 759,000 adult and 29,000 young carers in Scotland.

With one in six adults in Scotland providing unpaid care, charities have come together to highlight the urgent need to improve wellbeing among carers, who all too often put their needs second.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland said:

"This report shows the very real impact of caring on carers’ health and wellbeing and the importance of identifying and supporting carers as early as possible in their caring journey; helping to connect them to services to protect their health and wellbeing. There is a role for everyone in this, for example, from GPs identifying and referring carers to the right support, to employers supporting carers in their workforce and from local authorities helping carers to have regular breaks, to leisure trusts offering free access to leisure activities for carers."

The research comes from a UK survey of people providing substantial care, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care for a loved one each week.

Not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three unpaid carers in Scotland (38 per cent) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (five per cent) of the general population. This makes them seven times more likely to be lonely than the general population.

The research shows how financial and practical support can help improve the wellbeing of the Scotland’s 788,000 carers and keep them better connected to their communities.

The charities calling for a step change in the way society values and supports unpaid carers, and supporting Carers Week 2019, are Carers Scotland part of Carers UK, and in Scotland Age Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland, Motor Neurone Disease Association Scotland, MS Society Scotland and Sense Scotland.


- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

About the research

Increase in number of carers outlined in the research report:

The rise in number of carers in the UK was extrapolated from polling carried out by YouGov in December 2018 and January 2019, taking 17% of the adult population who say they are a carer in response to and applied it to mid-2017 population estimates of those aged 18 and over for each nation in the UK.

In Scotland, the Scottish Government chose a number of years ago to utilise the Scottish Health and Experience Survey rather than the lower Census 2011 figure of 492,000. The SHeS was felt to provide the best estimate the number of carers in Scotland. This found there were 759,000 adult carers which broadly mirrors this YouGov polling

Carer loneliness and wellbeing:

The population data on loneliness used for comparison is from the Community Life Survey in England for April 2019.

Population data on wellbeing is taken from the Personal well-being estimates for personal wellbeing averaged across 2018. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland comparisons are to the figure for that nation’s whole population.

Population data on wellbeing was compared with data from Carers Scotland and Carers UK’s State of Caring Survey. Carers Scotland and Carers UK carried out the online survey between March and May 2019 and a total of 8,096 carers and former carers responded to this survey. Responses from the 7,525 people who are currently providing care are included in this report. 752 of respondents live in Scotland. 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.

About Carers Week 2019

Carers Week takes place from 10-16 June 2019 across the UK. The theme is Getting Carers Connected.

Carers Week, established by Carers Scotland Carers UK 25 years ago, is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million and Scotland’s 788,000 carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with hundreds of events planned for carers across the UK.


Twitter: @CarersWeek #carersweek


There are lots of different ways to get involved in Carers Week. From sharing information with a struggling friend, to handing out leaflets at your local GP’s surgery, we all have a role to play to help get carers connected.

Carers Week 2019 is supported by British Gas, who will be providing its customers with support and advice on unpaid caring throughout the week, with Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition also supporting

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