From the 11th – 17th June we will be joining others across the country to celebrate Carers Week – an annual campaign to raise awareness not only of carers but also the challenges that carers face in their daily lives. This years Carers Week focuses on getting carers Healthy and Connected. With around 6.5 million people in the UK who are full or part time carers – that’s around 10% of the UK’s population – this Carers Week presents a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate the work that they do and the huge contribution they make to our communities and the families they support, alongside the sacrifices that they make personally.
What is a carer?
A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and assists in supporting a friend or family member who has a disability, illness (mental or physical) who needs extra help in their daily lives as they get older or their condition worsens. Whilst caring can be hugely rewarding, it can also have a negative impact on the carers’ health and wellbeing. The information below highlights some of the key issues facing carers from the Carers Week website.
The issues Carers face:
- Carers can find it a challenge to find time to take care of their own wellbeing whilst caring: Over half of carers (54%) also reported that they have reduced the amount of exercise they take because of caring responsibilities. And 45% reported that they have found it difficult to maintain a balanced diet. 7 in 10 carers (69%) said they find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep because of their caring role.
- Carers are more likely to have physical or mental health conditions and often neglect those conditions: 3 in 5 carers have a long term health condition, this compares with half of non-carers. This pattern is even more pronounced for younger adults providing care – 40% of carers aged 18-24 have a long term health condition compared with 29% of non-carers in the same age group.
- Carers are more likely to experience stress, anxiety and worse mental health: Half (50%) of carers said their mental health has got worse as a result of caring. 8 out of 10 people (78%) said they feel more stressed because of their caring role, and 7 out of 10 (72%) said caring has made them feel more anxious.
- Carers often experience physical injury as a result of their caring role: 2 in 5 carers who hadn’t received any information or training on keeping well reported injuring themselves physically through caring.
- Carers can often experience loneliness and social isolation which can have a negative impact on health: Carers who had felt lonely or isolated were almost twice as likely to report worsened mental (77%) and physical (67%) health.
Ways to get involved:
The Carers Week website also has lots of information on how you can get involved with the campaign and also support those who may visit your pharmacy or work alongside you who look after or care for a friend or relative. Nearly half of carers work, alongside caring and there are lots of simple things you can do as an employer, pharmacist or member of your local community to help them in their role and with their own health at the same time.
We also have lots of information in our carers fact sheet on Local Authority support, financial assistance and benefits, employment advice and practical and emotional support.