Unpaid carers supporting their elderly loved ones spend an average of 26 hours every week providing care, the equivalent of more than three full working days, according to research from retirement specialist Just Group.
The research was conducted among 2,003 UK adults aged 45-75 (of which 1,002 were unpaid carers) by Opinium or Just Group between 10th-16th November 2020.
The survey results reported that the majority of carers (72%) provide less than thirty hours a week, this still leaves more than a quarter (28%) providing more than thirty hours a week of caring duties.
Some of the other survey findings included:
- 7% said they provided more than 100 hours of care every week.
- A quarter (24%) of unpaid carers stated that they had reduced working hours or stopped work altogether to support an elderly relative or relative-in-law.
- A third of carers (33%) said they felt more socially isolated as a result.
- Four in 10 (42%) said they turned down social opportunities in order to provide care.
- 40% said the toll had caused problems in their relationship with their partner, 38% stating it had damaged friendships and a quarter (25%) of people had suffered problems with their siblings.
Despite the stresses, three-quarters (77%) of unpaid carers agreed that they were glad they were providing care rather than someone else, with only 7% disagreeing.
Stephen Lowe, Group Communications Manager of Just Group, said, ‘People are soldiering on but it’s clear many people feel they are near breaking point. Until there is a clear policy from the government that helps people plan for later life, this is unlikely to change. The government has promised reforms and, after years of delays, it is a matter of urgency that they follow through on their pledge.’
On Carers Week 2021 (7th-13th June), Carers UK will be shining a spotlight on the lack of breaks that carers have been able to take in the past year, and the worrying impact this is having on their health and wellbeing, as well as their ability to work and live a meaningful life beyond caring. To address this situation, Carers UK is calling on the Government to urgently increase funding for carers’ breaks by an additional £1.2 billion, so all carers providing significant hours of care can take a break.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said earlier this year, ‘The changing priorities of our health and care services during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on unpaid carers, and the last 10 months have been an extraordinary time for them. 81% are providing more care for their loved ones, often because of health and care systems temporarily reducing their services and relatives’ care needs increase.'