Carers UK has recently published their State of Caring 2022 report: the largest and most comprehensive survey of unpaid carers, with over 12,400 current carers taking part this year.
It is clear from carers’ responses that the cost-of-living crisis has created unprecedented pressure for carers, which has not only affected their finances but their health and wellbeing. Last month, we published a report ‘Heading for crisis: caught between caring and rising costs’ based on these findings.
As well as finances, our State of Caring 2022 survey covered many other aspects of caring, from the impact of caring on health, to experiences of using support services, and the challenges of juggling work and care. The huge pressures placed across the NHS, together with the record levels of demand for social care services, means that many carers may not be getting the support they need.
- Many carers are facing serious difficulties in getting NHS treatment – of those waiting for specialist treatment or assessment a third (34%) have been waiting for over a year.
- Two thirds of those (67%) waiting for treatment said that waiting is having a negative impact on their physical or mental health.
- 41% of carers haven’t taken a break from their caring role in the last year.
- Half of all carers (51%) took over a year to recognise their caring role, with over a third (36%) taking over three years to recognise themselves as a carer.
- 75% of carers worry about continuing to juggle work and care going forward.
- With many services being reduced or cut completely, carers are extremely worried about the future: 61% said they were uncertain about what practical support they might be able to access in the next 12 months.
- There are opportunities to support carers though digital means and using data creatively, but approaches need to be tailored and digital exclusion combatted.
While Governments across the UK have taken a range of actions to provide carers with help and support, much more must be done. We have set out several recommendations on how carers should be supported, from a funded National Carers Strategy for England to review and reform of carers’ benefits and investment in social care to support carers with adequate breaks. We have also been campaigning for a landmark new right for employed carers to take up to one week of unpaid Carer’s Leave, and this Bill has now passed its Second Reading, securing vital Government support.