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Rising pressures on Scotlandís unpaid carers as public backing for greater support grows
Carers Scotland's significant new research shows the rising pressures on Scotland’s unpaid carers as public backing for greater support grows.
Key points from the research:
It is estimated that 328,000 unpaid carers in Scotland are concerned for their physical and mental health
195,000 are worried about their ability to cope financially
More care is being provided by unpaid carers than ever before – even more than during the height of the pandemic
There is overwhelming public support for more Government action to help unpaid carers
Carers Week charities are calling for an urgent 12-month plan of targeted support for unpaid carers across the UK. Many carers are struggling with the ongoing impact and negative legacy, of the pandemic, together with the strain of the social care and cost-of-living crises.
For the first time, the impact of caring on their own physical and mental health has topped carers’ concerns, closely followed by money worries.
The research, released for Carers Week 2022 (06-12 June), reveals that 87% of the general public in Scotland thinks that the government should provide additional support - including increased financial support and investment in care and support services- to unpaid carers so that they can have a break.
The report also shows that there are more unpaid carers in 2022 than before the pandemic, with one in five of Scotland’s adults (approximately 887,815 people) now supporting a relative, close friend or neighbour because of chronic illness- including mental ill-health, dementia, disability, or older age. The intensity of care they are providing has grown since earlier in the pandemic, with several factors possibly having an impact: many services remain reduced or closed, people who are more vulnerable to coronavirus continue to shield, and there are pressures on primary and secondary health care and a chronic shortage of social care.
The number of people providing care over 50 hours per week across the UK has risen by 30%.
At the same time, carers with lower household incomes were much more likely to be providing significant amounts of care (i.e, over 20 hours per week). Providing more care also reduces the chance of coping financially as carers are less likely to be able to juggle work and care, pushing them into poverty and financial hardship.
The six charities supporting Carers Week 2022 in Scotland are
Carers Trust Scotland
The Lewy Body Society
Together, they are calling for The Scottish Government to publish its Carers Strategy and COVID recovery plan as soon as possible and ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated to it to meet the ongoing challenges facing carers as the country learns to live with COVID.
With the Carers Week partners across the UK, they are also calling for priority for implementing carers' leave, actions to boost carers’ incomes to reduce the risk of poverty and hardship, help with food and energy costs, and -ahead of the winter- inclusion in the vaccination booster programme.
Commenting on behalf of Carers Week charities, Richard Meade, Director of Carers Scotland said:
"Clearly, whilst society has opened up for many people, it’s a very different picture for significant numbers of carers.
“So many have sacrificed their physical and mental health caring for their loved ones over the last two years and as this report clearly shows, it is absolutely essential that carers get the support they need to recover and stay well and meet the rising costs of living, that working carers are helped to stay in employment and that all carers can feel visible, valued and supported.”