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One in four voluntary carers have not had day off in five years, study warns

One in four unpaid carers haven’t had a day off in four years, new research has found, prompting warnings that people are reaching “breaking point” as they struggle to take even a day away from care responsibilities for years at a time.

A report by Carers UK found that carers — defined as those who provide unpaid support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness or mental health problem or is ageing — are struggling to spend time with partners and children or to see a doctor for their own health conditions.

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of carers said they still “struggle” to attain time away from their care duties, due in part to cost (32 per cent), the cared for person being unwilling to accept support from others (31 per cent) and a lack of specialised support on offer (27 per cent).

Nearly three-quarters of carers who had not had a break in a year or more meanwhile reported deterioration in their mental health (73 per cent), while 65 per cent reported a decline in their physical health.

The research also noted growing anxiety around the level of support that will be available against a backdrop of cuts to adult social care services, with almost a third (29 per cent) of carers worried that practical support for them might be reduced in the future.

Already, more than half (59 per cent) of carers reported a change in the services they received and, of these, four in ten (39 per cent) experienced a reduction in the amount of support offered by social services.

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