This week marks the return of Carers Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the vital contribution an estimated 6.5 million carers, that’s 1 in 8 adults, makes across the United Kingdom. Due to an increase in both the age and size of our population, as well as more complex long-term health conditions, this figure is set to rise to 9 million within the next twenty years.
The campaign this year continues to focus on building “carer friendly communities”. It comes as a report finds that an estimated 74% of the public in the United Kingdom think carers are not valued enough by society, whilst 3 in 4 carers do not feel their caring role is understood or valued by their community. The significant demands on caring means that eventually 1 in 5 carers will have to give up work altogether in order to meet their care responsibilities. This week alone will see another 42,000 people take on a caring responsibility.
A carer is somebody that looks after “an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend”, unpaid. Caring can be brief, helping somebody that has just left hospital to get better, but it can also be an intense 24 hour a day commitment. If the right support is not in place for the carers themselves, evidence shows ill health, poverty and social isolation is greatly increased.
This is a cause for concern financially as well as socially. As calculated by Carers UK, the University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds, 3 in 5 people across the United Kingdom will become carers at some point in their lives, making an estimated economic contribution of £132 billion per year to the economy. That’s an average of £19,336 per carer.
Future Care Capital would like the government to consider recognising carers more formally across the country, ensuring that support is available to maintain a work-life-care balance. We are calling for a national ‘resilience and respite’ programme to be established to nurture and care for carers.