Monday 07 June sees the launch of the new Carers Week report – Breaks or breakdown
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Our carers need to be recognised for the difficulties they are experiencing, respected for all they are doing, and provided with information, support and understanding.
So during Carers Week, we’re coming together to help Make Caring Visible and Valued.
A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health condition, or who needs extra help as they grow older. It isn’t someone who volunteers or is employed to provide support.
There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers. They are looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older. Caring’s impact on all aspects of life from relationships and health to finances and work can be significant, and carers are facing even more difficult circumstances this year. Whilst many feel that caring is one of the most important things they do, its challenges should not be underestimated. Caring without the right information and support can be tough. It is vitally important that we recognise the contribution carers make to their families and local communities, workplaces, and society, and that they get the support they need.
Fewer than one in five (14%) exhausted unpaid carers are confident that the support they receive with caring will continue following the COVID-19 pandemic.
After an extraordinarily challenging year providing many more hours of care for loved ones during the pandemic – coping with reduced support from health and care services as well as limited help from family and friends – unpaid carers are seriously worried about the support they will have to help them care in the future.
Research released for Carers Week has found that carers lost, on average, 25 hours of support a month they previously had from services or family and friends before the pandemic.
72% of carers have not had any breaks from their caring role at all.
Of those who got a break;
- A third (33%) used the time to complete practical tasks or housework
- A quarter (26%) to attend their own medical appointments.
- Three quarters (74%) reported being exhausted as a result of caring during the pandemic
- More than a third (35%) said they feel unable to manage their unpaid caring role
The six charities supporting Carers Week – Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB, and Rethink Mental Illness – are calling on the UK Government to provide £1.2 billion funding for unpaid carers’ breaks, so that those providing upwards of 50 hours of care are able to take time off for their own health and wellbeing.
On behalf of Carers Week charities Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“Carers have sacrificed their physical and mental health caring for loved ones over the course of this pandemic. They are exhausted having cared around the clock, and do not know how they can continue without a break.”
“Many are looking to support services to be able to take that time for themselves but are desperately worried that they will not continue in the future.”
“Without the right support, the stress and challenges of the last year could lead to far more carers breaking down. It is essential that the Government ensures that carers can take breaks and that those providing upwards of 50 hours of care each week get a funded break.”
“Unpaid carers need hope and support in the future, and they must be at the heart of the Government’s plans for social care reform.”
Remember that carers have been prioritised in earlier cohorts for the COVID-19 vaccination so if you haven’t had your vaccination yet, and you are a carer, visit the website here or call 119 to book in.
Whilst this is promoting the vast numbers of Carers and how we can best look after them too, it is worth remembering that when CQC inspect or speak with you, they will look at how effectively carers are supported within the following KLOEs:
- C2: involving people in decisions about their care
- R1: how do people receive personalised care that is responsive to their needs?
They may ask questions about how practices support carers in the following ways:
- Carers registers
- Holistic support needs
- In-practice support
- Appointments and access
- Information for carers
- Awareness and culture
To find out more, add your voice or join this campaign see the Carers week website here.
NHS England Carers Toolkit found here.
The RCGP further guidance and tools are here.