Who cares for the carers?

Almost 1.4 million people aged over 65 in England & Wales provide unpaid care for a partner, family or others but only 77,635 receive any carer-specific care services. 

Over 1/3rd of those carers provide more than 50 hours of unpaid care per week. It would cost £11.4 billion per year to buy that care.

65% of those carers have a disability or care needs of their own. 69% reported that being a carer had damaged their psychological wellbeing.

Over 10% of the population of our country are unpaid carers. Without them our health and social care systems would be unable to continue.  However, until April this year they had no formal right to support. 

The Care Act places obligations on Local Authorities to help those people. The obligations apply to unpaid adult carers. The diagram below shows how you can access this support if you are a carer.

The process begins by asking for an assessment. This will determine if you need some support - for example a 'respite break' from time-to-time. 

If you have 'eligible needs' the Council will develop a support plan with you and they may agree to fund that support without a means test.  If they decide you, or the person you care for, should meet some or all of the costs they will perform a financial assessment.

If the support provided means paying someone else to provide care (for example while you are on a respite break) the means test applies to the person receiving the care.  If the support comes directly to you as the carer (for example paying for a hotel break) the means test applies to you.

TOP TIP: You are not obliged  to provide care.  The Care Act recognises that  as an unpaid carer you are 'expert partners in care' and deserve the same "recognition, respect and parity of esteem with those you support"  If you find you are not receiving any support (or support that was promised ) you can tell the Council that you intend to stop playing the unpaid carer role.  That may well trigger a more substantive response.

The statistics are from the Age UK analyses (June 2015) and a Carers UK policy document from May 2014.  

Care in Numbers

  • 417,910 people over 65 received community based care and support at home in 2013
  • 900,000 people over the age of 65 who have care needs so not receive any formal support
  • Only 16% of people aged over 85 live in care homes
  • 58% of carers are female
  • 50% of women carers by the time they are 59
  • 50% of men are carers by the time they are 75
  • 40% of carers are supporting parents
  • 26% of carers are supporting their spouse or partner
  • 13% of carers are supporting their children
  • 9% of carers are supporting a friend

The value of support provided by unpaid carers is greater that the budget for the NHS (c.£119bn).

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