There are more informal carers across the UK than you think; Are you a carer?

Today there are approximately 7 million unpaid, or ‘informal carers’ in the UK looking after sick, disabled or older people – more than 1 in 10.  These are everyday people who take on the unpaid responsibility of caring for a family member or friend and the numbers are rising.

Some key facts around informal carers are…

  • There are around seven million carers in the UK – that is one in ten people. This is rising.
  • Three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives in the UK.
  • Out of the UK’s carers, 42% of carers are men and 58% are women.
  • The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £132bn a year.
  • By 2030, the number of carers will increase by 3.4 million (around 60%).

Young carers across the UK

  • 13,000 of the UK’s young carers care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Following a survey in 2010, the BBC estimated that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK.
  • 68% of young carers are bullied in schools.
  • Over 39% of young carers had not informed their teacher or any member of staff that they were a young carer.
  • 27% of young carers (aged 11–15) miss school or experience educational difficulties.

Older carers

  • One in five people aged 50–64 are carers in the UK.
  • 65% of older carers (aged 60–94) have long-term health problems or a disability themselves.
  • 8% of older carers say that being a carer has an adverse effect on their mental health.
  • One third of older carers say they have cancelled treatment or an operation for themselves because of their caring responsibilities.
READ  Who Cares for the Carers?

Carers caring for someone with dementia

  • There are currently 800,000 people living in the UK with dementia.
  • There are 670,000 unpaid carers of people with dementia in the UK.
  • Two thirds of people with dementia live at home and most are supported by unpaid carers.
  • Of all the UK’s carers, 11% care for people with dementia.

Caring and getting and keeping a job

  • There are 4.27 million carers of working age living in the UK; 2.44 million (57%) of these are women and 1.83 million (43%) are men.
  • The employment rate for carers is at 67% (72% of men and 62% of women); over half of those who are not working say that they want to do so.
  • Nearly one in eight workers is a carer.
  • One in five carers gives up employment to care.

How caring affects personal finances

  • In a survey, 53% of carers have borrowed money as a result of their caring role – 61% have borrowed from a friend or relative and 41% have used overdrafts.
  • 60% have used all of their savings to cover the costs of caring.
  • 23% have either re-mortgaged their home or downsized to a smaller property.

Claiming benefits and caring

  • In a survey, 8% of carers were receiving Disability Living Allowance as a result of their own disability or ill-health.
  • 35% of carers had missed out on state benefits because they didn’t realise they could claim them.
  • Out of carers surveyed, 9% had missed out on Carer’s Allowance for 3–5 years, 10% for 5–10 years and 14% for over ten years, because they did not realise they were entitled to it.
READ  Being a Care Worker

Carers’ health and well-being

  • In a survey, carers providing more than 50 hours of care per week are twice as likely to report ill-health as those not providing care.
  • Carers providing high levels of care were associated with a 23% higher risk of stroke.
  • 17% of carers who had taken a break of more than a few hours experienced mental ill-health compared to 36% of carers who did not have such a break since beginning their caring role.

Very often a home care service can provide not only care and support to the person in need but vital time away for the informal carer – even if this is just a few hours per week, this time enables the carer to re-energise and take a break from the stresses and strains of looking after their loved one thus maintaining a person’s sanity and health.  The worst case scenario is when the informal carer’s health breaks down and they are admitted to hospital.  This can then lead to the cared-for person being admitted to hospital because there is no one around to look after them, a situation which can be entirely preventable by using external Care Workers who can come in at times to suit and provide that much needed support to both parties.