More than three quarters (78%) of carers who miss out on practical and financial support as a result of not identifying as a carer have experienced stress and anxiety, according to a new report.
Those looking after older or disabled loved ones often don’t see themselves as carers and aren’t identified and as a result miss out on support. Half of carers (52%) surveyed said missing out on support as a result of not identifying as a carer impacted negatively on their finances and a similar number (50%) said it had an impact on their physical health.
Research published in ‘Missing Out: the identification challenge’, by Carers UK, found that 54% of carers took over a year to recognise their caring role, 24% took over 5 years to identify as a carer, and 9% took more than 10 years.
Some groups of carers, such as those caring for disabled children or people with mental health conditions, or caring at a distance, take longer than average to identify their role.
In addition, 91% of carers said they missed out on financial or practical support (or both) as a result of not identifying as a carer.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “For many people, looking after an ill, older or disabled loved one doesn’t have a name, it is ‘just something you do’. However, not recognising you are carrying out a caring role can be a barrier to accessing vital support. The longer it takes to identify as an unpaid carer, the more likely it is that carers will struggle without the support and advice they need. Frontline professionals, such as GPs, teachers and social workers, play a central role in ensuring carers are identified and then guided to support as early as possible in their caring journey.”
Carers UK is calling for:
• A new duty on the NHS and education professionals to put in place policies to identify carers and to promote their health and wellbeing
• Development of education, information and training for a range of frontline professionals to increase knowledge and signposting of carers
• Improved access to information and advice for carers
• A public awareness campaign to improve understanding and recognition of carers.
Carers UK has developed a range of tools to help carers get the information and support they need. This includes Upfront, an online guide that gives tailored financial and practical information to those who are new to caring: www.carersuk.org/upfront. For more information about the financial and practical support available for carers, go to www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice