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Carers Wales responds to the news that unpaid carers are being asked to plug the gap of a paid care worker shortage in Swansea

10 August 2021

Carers Wales is deeply concerned that Swansea Council and Swansea University Health Board are planning to ask already exhausted unpaid carers to take on additional caring duties, as a response to a shortage in paid care workers over the summer.

Research shows the number of unpaid carers in Wales increased to 683,000[1] at the height of the pandemic. People took on intense caring roles, such as helping with personal care, administering medication and preparing meals, as many services such as day centres and opportunities for respite, were reduced or closed because of the pandemic.

The shortage of paid care workers and the assumption that families and friends providing unpaid care can and will take over the shortfall in services when they are already reeling from a lack of support and recognition during the pandemic fails to recognise the immense efforts unpaid carers have already made[2].

Research for Carers Week 2021 found that over 7 in 10 (72%)[3] carers in Wales have been unable to take any breaks from their caring role since the start of the pandemic, while 76%[4] of carers say they are exhausted and worn out. It is unacceptable and unsustainable to expect exhausted unpaid carers to cover a workforce shortage in social care.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 puts carers on an equal legal footing with disabled people and clearly states that a carer must be ‘willing and able’ to undertake caring responsibilities. Carers Wales is concerned that unpaid carers will have no choice but to provide additional care to the detriment of their own health and well-being, risking their ability to continue providing care.

If changes to care plans do happen, in the form of tasks previously undertaken by care workers transferring to unpaid carers, there must be a commitment that such changes are extraordinary and temporary and will not lead to longer term changes to support packages and the level of assistance carers in Swansea are legally entitled to. Carers must also not be re-assessed on the basis of having taken on these duties. Swansea Council should further offer additional Direct Payments to unpaid carers in lieu of the support that would otherwise be provided by paid care workers which the council would have normally funded.


[1] Carers Week: Carers Week 2020 Research Report

[2] Carers Wales: Unpaid carers have saved Wales £33 million a day

[3] Carers Week: Carers Week 2021 Research Report

[4] Carers UK: Caring Behind Closed Doors 6 Months On

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