Carers Trust warns that unpaid carers are increasingly bridging a gap that the health and social care system cannot fill, at great personal cost.
Carers Trust, the largest charity for carers, has today warned that thousands of unpaid carers are bridging a gap that health and social care departments cannot fill because of staffing and financial constraints.
John, an unpaid carer, told us that the strain he was under in looking after his partner meant that he had to consult his GP about loss of sleep. Following a referral to his nearest carers centre he said that “having someone there to talk through the more difficult moments was a lifeline.”
Thea Stein, Carers Trust Chief Executive, comments: “Everyday unpaid carers provide help and support to people that the state is unable to provide, keeping people out of our very busy hospitals, out of care homes and as far as is possible helping to maintain their independence in their own home.”
She continued: “Recent features in the media about, for example, 15 minute calls and zero hours contracts, are only a symptom of the real underlying problems. Whilst they highlight the fact that paid for care providers, including many of our own Network Partners who provide paid care in order to give unpaid carers a break, are struggling to cope with delivering care to the volume of people that require help and support, the stories do not address the underlying issue of a system which cannot cope and is becoming increasingly dependent on the UK’s seven million unpaid carers.”
The warning comes as the charity launches its 2012-13 annual review ‘One year on’. This is the first annual review that Carers Trust has published after its formation in 2012 as a result of two charities – Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – merging. Unlike many charities which exist to eradicate a problem, Carers Trust exists to provide help and support to the ever-growing numbers of unpaid carers. According to recent forecasts, the number of unpaid carers will increase by 3.4 million (around 60%) over the next 30 years.
There are currently around seven million carers in the UK and this number will rise as the population gets older, social care becomes more expensive, and people live longer with life limiting conditions.
Andrew Cozens, Chair of Carers Trust comments:
“There are seven million unpaid carers in the UK and this is fast becoming the zeitgeist issue of our time. We have an ageing population and people are living longer with life limiting conditions. This is clearly an issue that will not go away but it is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. Unpaid carers are not an unlimited resource, or a community asset. They are people who form the backbone of our health and social care systems and more importantly, they need and deserve our support.”
Since the charity was formed in April 2012 it has:
- Secured The Co-Operative Charity of the Year Partnership and is well underway to raising £5m to support 20,000 more young adult carers;
- As Chair of the National Young Carers Coalition successfully managed to lobby government to change legislation to give young carers more support;
- Provided grants totalling over £123,000 for carers to purchase essential goods such as a bed, much needed respite, or to learn a new skill.
- Commissioned ground breaking research into the specific needs of dementia carers
- Secured 21 mental health trusts into working with carers as part of the Triangle of Care work.
- Carers Trust currently reaches 450,000 carers through its Network Partners and interactive websites but there is clearly so much more to do.