Stockton JSNA


Carers

Who is at risk and why?

The National Carers Strategy (DH, 2010a) identified the needs of carers in five main areas:

  • Carers will be respected as expert care partners and will have access to the integrated and personalised services they need to support them in their caring role.
  • Carers will be able to have a life of their own alongside their caring role.
  • Carers will be supported so that they are not forced into financial hardship by their caring role.
  • Carers will be supported to stay mentally and physically well and treated with dignity.
  • Children and young people will be protected from inappropriate caring and have the support they need to learn, develop and thrive and to enjoy positive childhoods.


All carers are at risk of poor health and well-being due to their caring role.  Carers of different client groups (i.e. different types of illness of the cared for person) face different challenges but these challenges can put them all at risk of poor health and well-being. However, some have an increased risk of poor physical and mental health.

Age
The 2011 Census showed the majority of carers are of working age; the peak age for caring is 50-64 with over 2 million carers in this age group.  About one in five people aged 50-64 are carers.

Young carersThere are 166,000 young carers in the UK (2011 Census). Some carers can be as young as 5 years old. Younger carers encounter specific problems, for example 68% of young carers report that they are bullied at school.  The 2011 Census showed that young carers, many of whom are providing inappropriate levels of care, are at risk of not only poor health and well-being, but their caring role can also impact on their emotional and social development and on their education.

Working age carersThere is limited information about working age carers although we do know most carers fall into this age group.  Nationally, just less than one in eight (13%) adults aged 16 to 64 in full-time employment care for a sick, disabled or elderly person. However, the prevalence of caring is highest of all among the economically inactive, just over one in five (21 per cent) of whom were spending time caring for someone.  About half of carers spending the most time (between 20 and 49 hours) caring per week were in employment in 2001. The challenges of combining paid work and informal care seems to particularly affect those undertaking substantial hours of caring per week (DWP, 2009).

Older carersThis group of carers is at higher risk of poor health as they have the additional problems associated with ageing.  A survey of experiences of older carers showed that 65% had long-term conditions or disabilities themselves, and 69% said their caring role had an adverse effect on their mental health (Princess Trust for Carers, 2011).

There are 1.2 million people in Enhland aged 65 and over who are providing unpaid care to a disabled, seriously ill or older relative or friend.  The number of carers aged 85 and over grew by 128% in ten years (Carers UK & Age UK, 2015).

Gender
In the UK, more women than men have a caring role; 58% of carers are women and 42%  are men (Carers UK, 2012).

Significantly more women than men in the 50-64 age group provide care.  However, in the 65 and older age group, more men provide care than women.  Nearly 3 in 5 carers aged 85 and above (59%) are male (Carers UK & Age UK, 2015).

Female carers are more likely to provide 'round the clock' care, with females making up 60% of those caring for over 50 hours per week (Census 2011).

Socioeconomic status
Over one in five (21%) economically inactive people are carers, a rate that is more than 50% higher than for people in full-time employment (Department of Work and Pensions, 2009).

For carers who give up work there will be an impact on pension contributions and an increased risk of poverty in later life.  Amongst carers:

  • 45% are depressed about their financial position,
  • 62% have no savings,
  • 15% have turned to drink or drugs to cope with their financial situation (Princess Royal Trust for Carers, 2010).

The skills of carers are lost to the workforce and economy.

Ethnicity
Carers in the BME community can be reluctant to seek help, are often unaware of the support available and can become isolated in their role.  Bangledeshi and Pakistani men and women are three times more likely to provide care compared with their white British counterparts (Carers UK, 2012).

Carers providing care for a substantial number of hours per week
Increased time spent caring can increase the risk of poor health as the stress involved may increase and the carer has less time to consider their own health. This is particularly relevant to older carers whose health is at risk due to the normal ageing process.

The 2011 Census showed for the general population that 5.2% classed their health as "not good".  For those providing over 50 hours of care per week, the rate rises to 16%.

 

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