A third of those caring full-time for older, disabled or seriously ill loved ones receive no practical support, new research from Carers UK reveals.
The results of a survey of over 3,000 carers across the UK show that many are struggling alone without advice or support and are seeing caring taking a toll on their health, family finances and careers as a result.
The research is being published on the eve of the charity’s landmark State of Caring 2013 Conferencetomorrow (1st May 2013). The conference will bring together policy-makers, frontline NHS and social care workers, voluntary groups and carers to explore how to support increasing numbers of carers in tough economic times.
The charity has warned that leaving many of the UK’s 6.5 million carers with little or no support risks pushing them to breaking point, and that new cuts to benefits and services could undo decades of work to improve carers’ lives.
The fight to win better support for carers was pioneered by the Reverend Mary Webster in 1963, leading to thefoundation of Carers UK in 1965.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “When Mary Webster gave up her career to care for her parents, she felt her caring was not seen or valued. In 1963 she began campaigning for support for carers – rights, respite, financial help and advice.
“Through five decades rights and entitlements have been won across employment, care, pensions, and benefits. Yet for all this, fifty years on, many carers today would still recognise and identify with the situation that Mary experienced – being forced to give up their jobs and facing isolation, financial hardship and poor health as a result of caring for older or disabled loved ones.”
“Leaving one in three carers to care alone, with no help, shows that, as a society, we have much more to do to ensure that this normal part of life does not end up pushing families into crisis.”
Carers UK says the figures set out challenges for both Government and wider society. Their State of Caring 2013 Conference will examine how to deliver affordable, good quality care and support services; workplaces which support families to juggle work and care and new ways of ensuring families who take on caring responsibilities get early advice.
Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb MP will address the event, which will be chaired by broadcaster and commentator Fiona Phillips, who herself gave up work as a GMTV presenter to care for her father who had dementia.
Almost a third (31%) of respondents to the Carers UK survey who are full-time carers (for 35 hours or more per week) said they receive no practical support with caring.
The survey also showed that over 4 in 10 (44%) of carers were pushed into debt as a result of the extra costs of caring and giving up work or reducing hours to care.
A YouGov poll commissioned by Carers UK earlier this year showed a staggering 2.3 million adults have given up work to care for an elderly parent, disabled or seriously ill loved ones.
Carers UK’s new survey showed that over half (56%) of those who gave up work to care had spent over 5 years out of work as a result.
1. Reverend Mary Webster began campaigning for carers in 1963. She had given up her work as a Congregationalist minister in 1954 to care for her parents. Mary wrote to national newspapers and began a campaign to bring the issue into the public realm, and to win political support. From these beginnings. the carers’ movement grew, and Mary established the National Council for Single Women and her Dependants in 1965 which later became Carers UK.
2. More than 3,300 carers completed the Carers UK’s State of Caring online survey, showing that:
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