Five million adults ‘act as carers’

Five million adults in England are acting as a carer for a sick, elderly or disabled person with more than one in five providing care for more than 50 hours a week, according to figures.

The percentage of carers aged 16 and over providing 50 hours or more care a week has more than doubled in the past nine years from 10% to 22%, provisional figures from the NHS Information Centre showed.

Nearly half of carers – 48% – provide 20 hours or more of care a week and 30% provide 35 hours or more, according to figures from the centre.

Over a third, 35%, of carers look after a parent, while over a quarter, 27%, care for their spouse or partner.

One in 10 care for a friend or neighbour, 14% for their child, 9% for a parent-in-law, 5% for a grandparent and 9% for other relatives.

Nearly half of carers, 47%, said the quality of their life was “all right” while just over a third, 36%, said it was either “good, very good or could not be better”.

The remaining 17% said their quality of life was either “bad, very bad or so bad it could not be worse”.

The figures were taken from two reports – a survey of carers involving results from 2,400 interviews, and a survey of carers known to councils with adult social services responsibilities, which received 35,000 responses.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “The report suggests that the majority of carers are female, most are from a white ethnic background and nearly half of those known to councils are aged 65 or over. Our figures also suggest many carers are spending 50 hours or more per week looking after the person they care for, who is most often a spouse, partner or relative.

“Social care is a broad and complex area in this country and these figures are important, as they help both social care professionals and the wider community understand the impact that caring has on our society.”

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