There are 7 million unpaid carers in the UK. That is around 1 in 10 of the population. 3 in 5 of us will be a carer at some point in our lifetime. Unpaid carers provide care for millions of people who could not manage without their help. That is why it’s important for carers to be identified and supported.
I have pledged to make a difference for carers if elected to Parliament by taking the 5 steps identified by the Carers Trust:
Carers Trust has identified five key asks that could help ensure carers are given the support they need now and in the future.
1. Carers need well-funded services which give them the right support at the right time and in the right place
- Legislation provides important rights for carers to assessment and support in their own right. Research and practice shows it isn’t possible to implement these rights without sustainable funding – which needs to be targeted towards supporting carers.
- Carers need support from local carers’ services, who help carers with advice and information, emotional support, benefits advice, and time away from caring, including breaks. Many services are experiencing significant pressures, which creates uncertainty for the carers they support.
- Many unpaid carers could not manage without the high quality support of paid care support workers. The government must ensure that enough paid staff are available to support carers – wherever these workers come from in the world.
We want the next government to ensure carers in all areas receive sustainable support when and how they need it, including through high quality replacement care.
2. Young carers and young adult carers must be supported to achieve their potential in education, training and employment
Up to 700,000 young carers, and 375,000 young adult carers aged 16 – 25, provide valuable support to their families and friends. Without being identified and supported early, their caring role can damage their health and wellbeing, and put barriers in the way of achieving their potential at school, college, university, training and in employment. They need greater support and recognition so that the care they give to others is not at the cost of their own future.
We want the next government to ensure that young carers are identified and supported earlier in education, training or work so that they can have the same life opportunities as other children and young people.
3. Older carers and carers of people with dementia need extra support to look after their own health and wellbeing
There are an estimated 670,000 unpaid carers of people with dementia, and over one million carers over the age 65 in the UK. Almost one in ten people over 85 provide unpaid care, with this number set to double over the next 20 years. Most carers aged over 70 provide over 60 hours care a week. Carers over retirement age - a time when they should be able to relax and try new things - can find themselves working harder than ever, with their own health, wellbeing and finances affected by their caring.
We want the next government to ensure that carers of people with dementia, and older carers, receive extra support and that older people are helped to plan in case they become a carer.
4.Carers of people with mental health problems must be recognised and not ignored
Carers play an essential role in helping and supporting friends and family who use mental health services. Carers are often the ones who know what the person needs, are the first to spot if the person is becoming unwell, and can be a vital partner in care and recovery. However, carers are often excluded from the care planning and treatment of people with mental ill health, and information is not shared.
We want the next government to ensure that carers of people with mental health problems are involved as key partners and that their own needs as carers are addressed.
5.Carers need to be identified early, and their needs responded to
Carers are too often missed by GPs, social workers, teachers, and other health, social care, and education professionals. Carers tell us that they don’t just want to be identified and assessed, they want a meaningful offer of support. Not all carers need support all the time, but all carers need to know what to do if things change or get worse, and that support is available for the person they care for – reducing the need for carers to care.
We want the next government to ensure that Professionals who help carers – like GPs, teachers and social workers - identify and support carers of all ages, and that carers know that caring is always a choice.