The Hidden Carer Crisis that 50% of us will Face
A report released by the charity Carers UK, to mark Carers Rights Day 2019, looked at the impact of caring for a loved one and the likelihood of becoming an unpaid carer. Sheffield and Birmingham Universities conducted the research, and analysed data from individuals who had participated in both the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society social and economic study for more than 15 years between 1991 and 2018.
The research concluded that “Women can expect to take on caring responsibilities for an older, sick or disabled relative more than a decade earlier than men.” Half of women will care by the age of 46, compared with half of men for whom the age is 57. However, men still had the same 50-50 chance of being an unpaid carer.
Many will take on the role while working and be forced to take unpaid leave. And for anyone taking on the role, working or otherwise, it is recognised that most will “Pay a heavy price for the support they give – financial strain, poorer health and social isolation”, according to Sue Yeandle, Principal Investigator, University of Sheffield.
This subject is hugely important to all of us, not only because the reality is two in three of us are expected to become an unpaid carer in our lifetime, but because of the financial contribution they make to the economy. It is estimated that unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion a year – the cost of a second NHS, this has doubled since 2001*.
Carers UK, and other charities, are aiming to raise awareness of caring and care and make it a public issue. They are calling for action to ensure a carer’s health and wellbeing is maintained and improved, do not suffer financial hardship and to guarantee five to ten days of paid care leave.
Given the statistics, it is important that the recommendations of charities, such as Carers UK, are listened to and acted upon, to ensure the continued care and support of our aging population for years to come.