Six in 10 people who care for an older, disabled or seriously ill loved one have reached breaking point and, as a result 63% have experienced depression and 79% report anxiety, a survey has found.
Carers UK’s Carers at breaking point survey of more than 5,000 carers also found that for 1 in 9 carers who had had a breakdown, the person cared for had to be rushed to hospital or needed emergency social care while the carer recovered.
Also, 46% in crisis had fallen ill but had no choice but to carry on caring – unable to access additional help from social care services or the NHS.
Carers UK has warned that even greater numbers of carers face crisis, as social care services in England are cut by £3.5 billion and carers’ benefits by £1 billion.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “For millions of families, caring for older or disabled loves ones means a daily battle with exhaustion, stress and anxiety. Carers reported exhaustion, suffering physical injury and collapsing from stress and anxiety as they struggled to care for ageing parents with conditions like dementia, severely disabled children or seriously ill partners. A fifth of carers were receiving no practical help at all – leaving them unable to take a break from caring or even get a good night’s sleep.”
Carers UK is calling on all political parties to take urgent action to:
• Deliver urgent new funding for social care services
• Place a duty on NHS bodies to identify and support carers
• End cuts to carers’ benefits and take urgent action to alleviate carers’ financial hardship
• Implement a right to paid ‘care leave’ for those combining work and care.
“As our ageing population means a growing number of us will take on caring responsibilities for older or disabled loved ones, our society cannot afford for caring to result in breakdown,” Herklots added. “It brings costs to our health services when both carers and the person they care for end up in hospital and to our businesses and economy when carers have to leave work when they cannot get the support they need to combine work and caring.
“This is a challenge all political parties must respond to at the election: how will you act to support our families when we need to care for ageing parents or disabled loved ones?”