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Percentage of carers providing 50 hours or more care a week has more than doubled in 9 years, provisional figures show

Five million adults aged 16 or over in England – nearly one in eight – act as a carer for a sick, elderly or disabled person, with over a fifth providing care for more than 50 hours a week, provisional figures from The NHS Information Centre show this month.

22 per cent provide care for 50 hours or more, compared to 10 per cent in 2000-01. Latest figures also provisionally show nearly half of carers (48 per cent) provide 20 hours or more of care a week and 30 per cent provide 35 hours or more.

A separate survey also published today suggests that carers known to councils with adult social services responsibilities have more intense caring duties, with nearly half (49 per cent) spending over 50 hours a week caring and over a third (37 per cent) caring for more than 100 hours a week.

The findings are from two new reports published today: Survey of Carers in households – 2009/10 England – Provisional Results, which involved results from 2,400 interviews with carers, and Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England, 2009/10, a new survey of carers known to councils with adult social services responsibilities, which received 35,000 responses.

Together the reports provide more detail than ever before about the typical profile of a carer and their experiences.

The Survey of Carers in households – 2009/10 England – Provisional Results, gives provisional national estimates based on 2,400 interviews with carers. It shows that just over a third (35 per cent) of carers look after or provide special help for a parent, while over a quarter (27 per cent) care for their spouse or partner.

One in ten (10 per cent) care for a friend or neighbour, 14 per cent for their child, nine per cent for a parent-in-law, five per cent for a grandparent and nine per cent for other relatives. (Note that figures sum to more than 100 per cent as carers may be caring for more than one person).

Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England, 2009/10 surveyed carers known to councils and received 35,000 responses. Of those that responded:

  • Nearly half of carers (47 per cent) were either retired or self employed, while nearly one in five (17 per cent) were not working because of their caring responsibilities and 14 per cent were not in employment for other reasons. Six per cent were in work and said they did not need support from their employer while 12 per cent were in work and felt supported, but four per cent were in work but did not feel supported.
  • Nearly half of carers (47 per cent) said the quality of their life was “alright” while just over a third (36 per cent) said it was either “good, very good or could not be better”. The remaining 17 per cent said their quality of life was either “bad, very bad or so bad it could not be worse”.
  • Eight per cent said they suffered a lot of financial difficulty because of their caring role, while a third said they had suffered to some extent. The remainder (60 per cent) said they had suffered no financial difficulties at all.
  • More than half (54 per cent) were either extremely or very satisfied with the support or services they and the person they cared for had received within the last 12 months from Social Services. A further 29 per cent said they were fairly satisfied, nine per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and the remaining eight per cent were either extremely, very or fairly dissatisfied.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “These two reports paint the most detailed picture The NHS Information Centre has produced to date of the typical carer in today’s society.

“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.”

The full provisional report for Survey of Carers in households in England 2009/10, is at:www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/carersurvey0910

The full report for Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England, 2009/10, is at: www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/psscarersurvey0910

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