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Wake-up call for Wales over reality of family caring

09 June 2014

Research reveals crisis of carers struggling without support and huge gaps in national understanding of growing social issue

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ACROSS Wales an invisible army are caring for increasing numbers of older, ill or disabled loved ones.

But research published today to mark Carers Week 2014 reveals worrying public ignorance of the rising call on families to provide unpaid care.i

The reality is that 6.5 million peopleii in the UK – 370,000 in Wales – are already caring for a family member or close friend who is frail or facing long-term illness or disability.

Today’s Carers Week/YouGov poll shows that adults of all ages drastically underestimate the issue, with only a tiny fraction (8%) of Welsh adults correctly stating the true scale of unpaid, family care.iii

And while numbers across the UK are predicted to rise to 9 million by 2037iv, most adults don’t think caring will happen to them. Only a quarter of adults in Wales who are currently not carers (25%) believe it likely they will become carers in the future, the survey found.v In reality from previous research we know that over a third of carers will start caring every year and over a third will cease which would equate to 123,000 new carers in Wales each yearvi.

Speaking on behalf of the nine charities behind Carers Week 2014, Keith Bowen, Director of Carers Wales and Chair of the Wales Carers Alliance said:

“The reality is that all of us, at some point in our lives, will either be carers or need the help of carers. This survey is a wake-up call, clearly and alarmingly showing that as a society we need a much wider understanding of the realities of caring.”

The survey also asked what would be of greatest concern if a loved one did come to need care.

Wales’ Top 3 Caring Worries are revealed as:

  1. Money worries - Being unable to cope financially
  2. Emotional strain - Finding it too stressful/upsetting
  3. I wouldn’t know how - Not having the experience or skills to be a carer

The views of current carers gathered through the same poll, reveal carers across the country are struggling behind closed doors without adequate help. Worryingly, over half (53%) of carers polled across the UK said they were not receiving enough support.vii Their experiences included:

“My brother cares full time for both my parents. My father’s 91 and unable to walk without assistance. My mother’s 86, has severe dementia and needs help 24/7. I help at weekends and one evening a week. My brother’s spoken to the doctor about care for my mother and was told the dementia nurse has a full case load. He’s contacted a charity who have agreed to help for two hours per week.”

“My daughter has spina bifida and is a full time wheelchair user….. At 60, it can be hard for me to push a manual wheelchair plus carry shopping up a hill. …”

“I have been looking after my disabled wife for 13 years… I work part time and my physicalhealth is not great and sometimes I feel like I am cracking up.”

Keith Bowen, Director of Carers Wales and Chair of the Wales Carers Alliance, added:

"We need to understand what carers are doing day in and day out, the impact caring can have – and the difference we as individuals and organisations can make. That is why during Carers Week we are calling on the public and professionals across the UK to reach out to carers in their local communities.”

  • Case studies and spokespeople from Wales Carers Alliance are available on request.
  • Contact: Keith Bowen, Director Carers Wales on 029 2081 1370 or mobile 07900 958 158
    Beth Evans – Information and Communications Officer, Carers Wales on 029 2081 1370 (Welsh Language)

Notes for editors:

  • Carers Week 2014 runs from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June UK-wide. Further findings about the reality of caring today will be released through the week of campaigning.
  • Carers Week is an annual UK-wide awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers This year the campaign focuses on the Carers Week Quest – the greatest ever drive to reach out to the UK’s carers.
  • Carers Week Quest 2014 is calling on individuals and organisations across the UK to reach carers in their local communities who are missing out on vital support and services. Over 12,000 local events are planned.
  • Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Skills for Care and the Stroke Association and support from Sainsbury’s.
  • Wales Carers Alliance is an informal group of voluntary organisations working across Wales supported by Carers Wales. The Alliance was formed in the early 1990s and was the first ever Alliance of voluntary organisations to come together to work collectively on carers’ issues. Current members of the Alliance are:- Age Cymru, All Wales Forum of parents & carers, Alzheimer’s Society, Care and Repair Cymru, Carers Wales, Carers Trust, Children in Wales, Christian Lewis Trust, Contact a Family Wales, HAFAL, Learning Disability Wales, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer care, MS Society Cymru/Wales, National Autistic Society Cymru, Parkinson’s UK, SNAP Cymru and the Stroke Association.
  • To find out more about the Carers Week Quest and to discover events in your local area visit

i All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2393 UK adults aged 18+ (165 in Wales). Fieldwork was undertaken 16-19 May 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
ii Census 2011
iii Respondents were asked to identify the proportion of UK adults they think currently provide unpaid care. In Wales 11% correctly identified 1 in 8 are caring. A fifth of Welsh adults (21%) – the highest selected option - thought only 1 in 25 UK adults currently provide unpaid care.
iv Carers UK, Facts About Carers 2012
v When Welsh adults who were not carers were asked how likely, if at all, they were to become a carer in the future 4% said very likely and 21% said fairly likely, 31% said not very likely and 15% not at all likely. 29% did not know.
vi In the Know – The importance of information for carers – Carers UK 2006
vii When UK adults with caring responsibilities were asked to what extent those caring felt they had been given the support needed 41% said definitely not enough support, 11 % not quite enough support, 19 % a fair amount of support, 14 % a lot of support and 15% did not know.

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