Carers failed by community services

6 Jun 16

Local services are failing to help carers stay healthy, happy and financially secure, according to research launched to mark the start of Carers Week.

Around 6.5 million people in the UK act as unpaid carers for a disabled, ill or infirm relative or friend. Yet many do not feel supported by local services or the wider community, according to a survey of more than 6,000 carers and former carers.

One carer quoted in the Building Carer Friendly Communities report said: “As a carer attempting to get understanding, advice, support and emergency care from the ‘community’ – such as GP, public transport, social services, dentist, pharmacies and hospitals – it can be very challenging, exhausting and beyond stressful.”

The survey found that half of carers have let a health problem go untreated, while a similar proportion say their mental health has deteriorated.

Two thirds of carers have given up work or reduced their working hours in to care for someone, and almost half (47%) report struggling financially.

The research found that carers who are supported by their communities are more likely to be able to stay healthy, maintain good relationships with family and friends and balance their work and caring responsibilities.

Emily Holzhausen, policy director at the charity Carers UK and Carers Week partnership lead, said: “Carers have told us that it makes a huge difference to their lives when they are supported by their local services and communities, whether that’s being offered a flexible appointment to see their GP, having flexible working policies from their employers, or their school raising awareness of caring and disability.

“Despite this, the majority of carers told us that their local community was not supportive of their caring role, which in turn is having a significant and negative impact on their life chances.”

She called on the UK’s national governments to think about what they can do to improve the lives of carers.

Seven charities have joined Carers UK in the Carers Week partnership: Age UK; Carers Trust; Independent Age; Macmillan Cancer Support; Motor Neurone Disease Association; and MS Society.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and

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