This survey undertaken by Carers UK paints a comprehensive picture of caring in 2017 and more than 7,000 people responded, making it the largest State of Caring Survey to date.
Download State of Caring 2017
Carers UK run this annual survey to find out what life is like for people who are caring and what needs to change to make life better. It uses the responses to show the governments across the UK how their policies really affect carers’ lives and to raise awareness of carers with the public.
The 2017 report found that carers most frequently listed access to breaks as one of three factors which could make a difference in their lives (42%). Respondents explained their own personal reasons for needing a break, listing diverse benefits ranging from the opportunity to spend time with partners and children to being able to see a doctor for their own health conditions. Yet few are able to take regular breaks, with only 16% of carers currently buying or receiving a break from caring in the form of services such as respite or alternative care provisions.
Carers who had not had a break in a year or more reported a deterioration in their health, both mentally (73%) and physically (65%). Despite the catastrophic impact posed by a lack of personal time, 87% of carers still “struggle” to attain time away from their care duties.
Carers named a number of barriers preventing them from taking a break:
- Cost – Paying for or contributing towards the cost of a break (31%)
- Care concerns – Person cared for is unwilling to accept support from others (31%),
support not on offer (27%), or
low confidence in quality of care (19%)
- Lack of awareness – Carers would not know how to request a break (16%)
The research also charts a growing anxiety around the level of support that will be available against a backdrop of cuts to adult social care services. Almost a third (29%) of carers are worried that practical support for them might be reduced in the future. Already, more than a third (34%) of carers reported a change in the services they or the person they care for receives and, of these, four in ten (39%) experienced a reduction in the amount of support offered by social services.
Two years after the Care Act put in place stronger duties on local authorities to support carers, these new rights are not improving the lives of many carers in England. Carer’s assessments, designed to look at the impact on carers’ health and wellbeing, are too-often failing to put in place vital breaks and support. Two in three (68%) carers believe their need to have regular breaks away from caring was not “thoroughly considered” during their assessment.
Carers UK recommends the following actions are needed to make a difference to carers’ lives:
- Following its consultation on a new Carers Strategy, the Government must publish an action plan setting out how improved support for carers will be achieved with targets and milestones so carers can see the progress being made.
- Increased and ring-fenced funding for carers’ breaks, offering a transparency and consistency across local authorities to those who need a break from caring.
- Sustainable funding settlements for social care and the NHS, including the provision of housing fit for caring, affordable care services, and technology that supports carers.
- Carer-friendly NHS, including policies that help identify carers and to promote our health and well-being resources.