Local unpaid carers are being “pushed to breaking point” warns The Carers’ Centre
A new poll by The Carers’ Centre has revealed the depth of worries faced by unpaid carers across Bath and North East Somerset today. Friends and family who are caring for someone feel ‘tired’ ‘frustrated’ and ‘trapped’, with significant concern over the future.
The pressure the NHS and social care is under; the cost of living; not being able to take a break; juggling work and care and keeping covid safe are all contributing to an unbearable level of pressure.
Over 75% of carers who responded to our poll were worried about the pressure the NHS faces and the impact this is having on them, and the people they care for. Longer waiting times, and shorter hospital stays can add to the pressure unpaid carers already face, causing caring roles to become more challenging.
The chart below shows the biggest concerns of unpaid carers in the area, right now.
"My father had to go into hospital for an emergency operation. He came home after a week under the 'hospital at home team'. I am completely shattered trying to juggle caring for my father and caring for my twelve year old daughter … I have no other help and I am exhausted."
Just under 40% of carers also noted difficulties around accessing paid care and support to help them in their role. For many, this can mean no opportunity to take a break, leaving them exhausted.
"I am completely shattered trying to juggle caring for my father. I have no other help and I am exhausted. We have been unable to find a private carer."
More than 65% of those who responded to our poll were worried about being able to take a break from their caring role, with some not having had a break in months. For those who can ‘take a break’ this often means catching up on other chores and tasks which have fallen by the wayside. Finding time to rest and recharge is something not easily available to unpaid carers.
"I would love a break but it seems impossible to organise as things are."
Here at The Carers’ Centre this is highlighted to us through our website, where the most popular hours for carers to be searching for information and advice are 2am – 4am. Time when they should be resting, giving them strength for the following day.
For many, this worry and exhaustion is compounded by the current cost of living crisis, with around three quarters of carers also worried about the impact this will have on them. Being excluded from any additional support in the recent government package, this worry is not likely to be relieved soon, with many fearful not only of the costs they are incurring now, but of the impact of increasing care costs in the future.
“I am at home very worried about the lack of money in the future if he has to go into care.”
For those who are managing to juggle work and care, the challenges can be even greater as they balance enough time for caring against the pressures of needing to work more hours in order to cover these increasing costs. Over half the carers we work with are worried about juggling work and care.
“I'm above water just about but with the predicted costs, especially energy, I won't be and might need to go back full time to make my household is ok. But where does that leave my brother's care?”
Our final question to our community was whether they were still worried about being Covid safe. Whilst it can often feel like the world is going ‘back to normal’ with restrictions eased, for those who care for vulnerable people the risk of covid is ever present. Nearly 50% of those who responded were still concerned about covid and it’s impact on them, and the people they care for.
“My daughter, who I care for, has Covid, she's being treated at home as she's high risk, she's been given anti-viral drugs and an oxygen monitor, I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.”
The results of the poll show the increasing need for everyone to step up and support people who care for others. Signposting to organisations who can provide help; being a listening ear or offering practical help to share some of the burden. There is something that everyone can do to support the unrecognised challenges that 1 in 8 people across Bath and North East Somerset face today.