Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
Member Login

Member login

No account? JOIN US

Worn out unpaid carers in Scotland uncertain the services they rely on will continue post-pandemic

06 June 2021
  • More than a third (36%) of people caring unpaid for family members or friends in Scotland feel unable to manage their caring role
  • 71% of unpaid carers have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic
  • Carers Week charities call on the Scottish Government to prioritise the reopening of services that give unpaid carers a break from caring and ensure sufficient funding is available to provide more breaks for carers.

Just 23% of exhausted unpaid carers in Scotland are confident that the support they receive with caring will continue following the COVID-19 pandemic.

After an extraordinarily challenging year providing many more hours of care for loved ones during the pandemic[1] - coping with reduced support from health and care services as well as limited help from family and friends - unpaid carers are seriously worried about the support they will have to help them care in the future.

Research released for Carers Week (7th – 13th June 2021) found that 71% of unpaid carers in Scotland have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic. Of those who got a break, over a third (36%) used the time to complete practical tasks or housework, and almost a quarter (24%) to attend their own medical appointments.

Three quarters (77%) reported being exhausted as a result of caring during the pandemic.

More than a third (36%) said they feel unable to manage their unpaid caring role.

The charities supporting Carers Week in Scotland – Carers Scotland, Age Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland, Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Oxfam Scotland - are calling on the Scottish Government to ensure unpaid carers providing significant hours of care get the breaks they need.

Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said:

“Carers are exhausted having cared around the clock for more than a year, and do not know how they can continue without a break. Many are worried that the support services they rely on will not continue in the future.

 “Without the right support, the stress of the last year could lead to far more unpaid carers breaking down. It is essential that the Scottish Government ensures that carers can take breaks, provides additional funding to expand breaks for carers and that carers are offered as much flexibility as possible to ensure that breaks meet their needs. 

“Moreover, unpaid carers need hope and support in the future.  We believe now is the time to make a generation-defining commitment to carers that they will be placed at the centre of Scotland’s recovery from COVID[1].  This includes, as part of delivering a National Care Service, ensuring that carers have a right to a break from caring”

72% of unpaid carers in Scotland responding to the Carers Week survey reported poor mental health, and the same percentage (72%) said their physical health had deteriorated.

More than two thirds of unpaid carers (69%) say they are worried about continuing to care without a break.

- ENDS -


Media contacts

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Carers Scotland: Tel: 0141 445 3070/07967826238
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director, Carers Scotland: 0141 445 3070/07582464752
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Head of External Affairs (Scotland) Carers Trust Scotland: Tel: 0300 772 7701/07824 542964


Notes to Editors

What is a break?

For carers a break is time off from caring and a chance to do things they would like to do, but can’t do while they are caring – everyday things such as catching up with friends, going for a walk, or simply catching up with some sleep. It could be for 30 minutes, an afternoon, or a week. A break could be provided by accessing care services such as replacement care, sitting services, a day service, or through support from family and friends providing either respite or essential care.

 About the research

Carers UK carried out an online survey between 8 April and 25 April 2021. A total of 2,850 carers and former carers responded to the survey. This included 2,754 current carers and 96 former carers. 71% live in England, 8% live in Scotland, 14% live in Wales and 6% live in Northern Ireland. 

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 are based upon responses from fewer than 2,754 carers.

 About Carers Week 2021

Carers Week takes place from 7-13 June 2021 across the UK. The theme is Making Caring Visible and Valued.  There are six charities supporting Carers Week – Carers UK, Age UK, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness.  In Scotland: Carers Scotland, Age Scotland, Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Oxfam Scotland.

Carers Week, established by Carers UK 27 years ago, is an annual awareness campaign which takes place recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with hundreds of virtual events planned for carers across the UK. 


Twitter: @CarersWeek #carersweek



[1] Carers UK, Caring Behind Closed Doors, 2020: 87% of unpaid carers in Scotland providing more care during the pandemic.

[2] Carers Scotland and Oxfam Scotland, with the national carer organisations, have been working together to call for the creation of a new National Outcome in the National Performance Framework focused on better valuing and investing in all forms of care and those who provide it, including protecting them from poverty. This would help drive sustained and deep policy and spending action so critically needed, while allowing progress to be tracked

Back to top