Across the UK an invisible army are caring for increasing numbers of older, ill or disabled loved ones.
But research published today to mark Carers Week 2014 reveals worrying public ignorance of the rising call on families to provide unpaid care.
The reality is that 6.5 million people – that’s 1 in 8 adults – are already caring for a family member or close friend who is frail or facing long-term illness or disability.
Today’s Carers Week/You Gov poll shows that adults of all ages drastically underestimate the issue, with only a tiny fraction (9%) of the nation correctly stating the true scale of unpaid, family care.
And while numbers are predicted to rise to 9 million by 2037, most adults don’t think caring will happen to them. Less than a third of adults who are currently not carers (29%) believe it likely they will become carers in the future, the survey found.
Speaking on behalf of the nine charities behind Carers Week 2014, Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “The reality is that all of us, at some point in our lives, will either be carers or need the help of carers. This survey is a wake-up call, clearly and alarmingly showing that as a society we need a much wider understanding of the realities of caring.”
The survey also asked what would be of greatest concern if a loved one did come to need care
The nation’s Top 3 Caring Worries are revealed as:
1 Money worries - Being unable to cope financially
2 Emotional strain - Finding it too stressful/upsetting
3 I wouldn’t know how – Not having the experience or skills to be a carer
The views of current carers gathered through the same poll, reveal carers across the country are struggling behind closed doors without adequate help. Worryingly, over half (53%) of carers polled said they were not receiving enough support.Their experiences included:
“My brother cares full time for both my parents. My father’s 91 and unable to walk without assistance. My mother’s 86, has severe dementia and needs help 24/7. I help at weekends and one evening a week. My brother’s spoken to the doctor about care for my mother and was told the dementia nurse has a full case load. He’s contacted a charity who have agreed to help for two hours per week.”
“My daughter has spina bifida and is a full time wheelchair user….. At 60, it can be hard for me to push a manual wheelchair plus carry shopping up a hill. …”
“I have been looking after my disabled wife for 13 years. … I work part time and my physical health is not great and sometimes I feel like I am cracking up.”
Heléna Herklots added: “We need to understand what carers are doing day in and day out, the impact caring can have - and the difference we as individuals and organisations can make. That is why during Carers Week we are calling on the public and professionals across the UK to reach out to carers in their local communities.”
A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and we’re leading a community of people to change the world for people affected by stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk
Carers Week 2014 runs from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June UK-wide. Further findings about the reality of caring today will be released through the week of campaigning. Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Skills for Care and the Stroke Association and support from Sainsbury’s.
To find out more about the Carers Week Quest and to discover events in your local area visit www.carersweek.org