A Helping Hand for Caregivers
Around 6.5 million people in the UK are regular caregivers, equating to one in eight adults – during the pandemic, the number has rocketed to 13.6 million. This includes those who have taken on carer’s duties to look after vulnerable family members, according to the charity, Carers UK. The number continues to increase, with a further 6,000 people in the UK taking on some form of caring duty every day. Accounting for 58% of the total number, there are more female carers than men. For 1.4 million people, this means providing caregiving services for more than 50 hours per week. Around one million carers look after more than one person. Their importance is immense, as they fill gaps that can never be covered by the NHS, saving the economy an incredible £132 billion per year. Unpaid carers According to a survey by the NHS, around 5.4 million carers are unpaid, with many fitting in their duties around their regular job – these include children and adults who care for someone they know who has an illness, physical disability, mental health problems or an addiction. Other unpaid carers look after a frail elderly relative, a partner or a friend who can’t cope without their support. The number of unpaid carers generally increases at a faster pace, largely due to an ageing population and improved life expectancy for individuals with complex disabilities and long-term conditions. Challenging times Caregivers often face challenging times, especially if they are caring for multiple people. Even caring for a family member creates its own challenges. The role puts immense pressure on the individual who has someone else’s wellbeing in their hands. According to research by the NHS, 84% of carers, both paid and unpaid, say being a carer has had a negative impact on their own health. They say their physical and mental health has suffered, mainly due to a lack of support, with 64% citing a lack of practical support as being a major issue. According to the charity, Macmillan, 70% of carers come into contact with health professionals at some point, but only 10% have regular contact with a supportive GP. Two-thirds feel they aren’t given relevant information and support from the NHS. Their main help comes from charities and voluntary support groups. Young carers face their own challenges: with 166,300 unpaid carers in England ranging from five to 17-years-old, providing care to a family member can have a negative effect on their general health and wellbeing. It can also impact on their education, childhood and their chance to socialise and form bonds with friends. At the other end of the scale, more than two million carers are aged 65 and older, including 417,000 who are aged over 80. For older caregivers, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide physical support for a loved one. Financial worries Of the 5.4 million unpaid carers in the UK, the significant demands of caregiving often mean they have to give up their job. An estimated 600 people are giving up work every day to care for a disabled or elderly relative. The main benefit they can claim is Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £67.60 per week, as long as they care for someone for a minimum of 35 hours weekly. This is the lowest benefit of its kind. Support groups Some say it can be a lonely life, but support groups are very important to make their job easier and stop them from feeling isolated. A support group means every carer will always have someone to relate to when they have something on their mind. Many exist for carers, providing both in-person and online support. Particularly during the pandemic, online support has been invaluable for caregivers. The role of support services is to work alongside health staff to improve the quality of a carer’s life by giving them practical and emotional support. They can be a source of useful information and additional resources all year round, but in particular during times of stress and upheaval. Reducing social isolation and helping caregivers to regain a sense of control and perspective over their life, they can also provide respite services to allow carers to take a break from their duties now and again, knowing their loved one is receiving expert care in their absence. Carers’ Rights Day The annual Carers’ Rights Day is organised to make people aware of their rights. It makes sure caregivers are able to access the available support as soon as they need it. Organised by Carers UK, the initiative ensures everyone knows where to get help and support, while raising awareness of caregivers’ needs. Carers’ Rights Day 2021, supported by Barclays Life Skills, took place on 25th November. The event also helps carers access any extra financial aid to which they may be entitled. Many charities in the UK award grants to people for vital items of disability equipment. Charities including Newlife for disabled children; Young Epilepsy; Tree of Hope for children’s healthcare needs; Action for Children; Muscular Dystrophy UK; Family Fund for disabled children; and Lifeline 4 Kids can provide aid of various kinds. If you need a specialist bed to ensure a disabled family member has a safe and comfortable night’s sleep, please contact Kinderkey. Not only will they get a good night’s sleep, but as their carer, you will too! We can arrange virtual assessments for our products to make the process as smooth and simple as possible.
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