/ Health

Do you share concerns for unpaid carers?

This week is Carers Week, an annual awareness campaign recognising the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers. Are you concerned about the physical and mental strain many go through?

The strain of caring is jeopardising unpaid carers’ ability to care in the future. Lack of sleep, performing care tasks and the impact on their finances are named as the top stressors by unpaid carers following research published by Carers UK this Monday.

Struggling carers: the stats

Sadly, the research found that more than half of carers in the UK said they expect their physical and mental health and wellbeing to get worse in the next two years. Two in five said they expect to provide less care or no care at all in the future due to poor physical health, while a third felt that poor mental health would stop them providing care in the future.

Older people, especially those over 75 years old, were most likely to say they expected to be able to provide less or no care in the future because of poor physical health.

These facts and figures chime a chord with the stories we’ve been hearing for our campaign, Care Needs Care Now, as well as the research we’ve been carrying out on Elderly Care.

Ask your questions

We’re pleased to say that today we’re holding an extra special Ask the Experts live on our Facebook page. Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy at Carers UK, will be joining us to answer your questions on being a carer.

You may recognise Emily – she was a guest author on Which? Conversation just last month.

If you’d like to ask Emily a question you can do so live from 7pm. Alternatively, simply drop it in the comments below and we’ll pass it on to the team.

Not on Facebook? No problem. We’ll deliver Emily’s answer for you back here.

Which? Elderly Care advice

As a part of our work on Which? Elderly Care to give practical information around all aspects of caring for a loved one, we are very mindful of the needs of carers themselves.

This is why we have articles about how to look after yourself and mental health concerns, including loneliness and depression, as well as guidance on carers’ rights at work, the benefits that are available for carers and how to arrange respite care.

Carers Week is all about celebrating the work that carers do as well as recognising the very real problems that come with the role.

What are your experiences like of caring for a loved one? Do you have concerns about the health and wellbeing of carers?

Comments
Member

I do not need to post my experiences I have been brutally honest over the years on Which convo .Financial help via the government reduced then eliminated due to paying the IMF even my 50P was removed because I got a few £££ rise in my pension . Has it affected my heath ??? dam right it has , extreme stress over nearly 2 decades has caused all sorts of illnesses , time away ? how can you do that if your wife depends on YOU not social workers and the charges for food delivery etc . Real help is financial not costing you if you don’t have the means to pay . Yes I am saving and have saved HMG a lot of money , will THEY care -no chance ! too busy salting away via the City in “off-shore tax havens” MY view of this me-me-me society – sorry not printable.

Member

As usually happens when I post on Which I have just received -2.30pm an email from the local council carers society of which I belong ( with card ) inviting me to travel 20 miles for a cup of tea and a chat , which ,obviously I am not able to do . This brings to mind that any carers out there should contact their local council for the address/email address of the officially backed regional council/local council Carers Organisation which will help them by meeting other carers in the same position so that they will not feel isolated nor be without a voice in the community . They have organised a raffle and tombola and a quiz night , my local carers is run by a female who is the council Training and Information Officer .

Member
Selwyn Lawrence says:
12 June 2018

At this particular moment in time, I’m not a carer, However, I do know quite a lot of other people who are looking after the elderly, as well as disabled, or mentally handicapped persons. The government has targeted some of these people, who are not of a pensionable age, and subjected them to this so called health assessment, some of who have had their disability benefits withdrawn. When this happens, it places privately run care establishments at risk of closure, indeed many of them have done, at an alarming rate, because the majority of them have no savings. However there are a number of elderly persons, being cared for at home, in some cases by a relative, or possibly by agency carers, the latter is paid directly by the person being cared for, either by pension, or savings, or a combination of both.

Member

yes ai am, I think they they shoud be paid fully by goverentement

Member
Patricia Naiker says:
16 July 2018

I Have been a carer with social services for 25 year’s. Now retired. My husband had cancer 2years ago and I cared for him for twelve months. I was refused any allowance as I had my state pension. Not right he needed he care for hrs a day. Plus that to pay for taxis to and from hospital. Not right

Member

Absolute agreement Patricia , as someone in the same position I get ZERO help from the government, even a small 50p/week was removed which allowed me reduced Community Council Tax. I have saved the State in today’s private care-home figures £100,000 and more (depending on charges could be much more ) already – return – you dont count in modern society – 19 years caring for my wife. not right is putting it mildly Patricia .

Member
Sue Wright says:
20 August 2018

I have been caring for my Mum for 6 years, she is 87 and very frail. I have been living on this measly care allowance for all this time. I live on my own and don’t enough financial support.

I just want to say that carer’s are not thought anything of. There is not much support out there for us. It was a hard task to undertake. I don’t have life of my own anymore.

Member

One thing I could say Sue contact your shire council and ask for their official Carer organisation email address or phone number and make sure your council recognise you as an official carer by getting registered with them and receiving a card that in the event of accident/illness they can contact the society and they will help you but also you will be invited to meet others in your situation and talk to them over tea/coffee and they also organise events so you will not feel isolated and alone. Your local Social Work Dept. will check if you are receiving the right benefits as well as reduced Council Tax.

Member

In relation to carers in Scotland -“Carers (Scotland Act 2016 ) ” new measures are being introduced to ease the burden on things like respite care read https://www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Support-Social-Care/Unpaid-Carers/Implementation/Carers-scotland-act-2016

Member

As my comment is under moderation as to the URL – In relation to carers in Scotland-“Carers (Scotland Act-2016 ) ” new measures are being introduced to ease the financial burden on Scottish carers in things like respite care etc from April -2018 . Sorry I cant post the Scottish government URL.

Member
Lou Ambrose says:
24 August 2018

Be prepared……An elderly relative made no allowances at all and has now become a burden to everyone.
Pension and allowances paid yes but the burden for friends etc. is still there and any hope of a state
care home is almost impossible. Elderly relatives have their own health problems and do not need this
kind of pressure. Personal carers receive no help at all and state paid carers are too limited with all the
regulations causing problems all round. Age is the problem and it is getting worse day by day.

Member
mandy says:
24 August 2018

Is it possible to be paid for caring for a relative. my brother has lpa for my mum and would like to pay me for my time as i need to work and if i got another job we would have to pay a stranger to take care of her.

Member

I find this whole debate depressing and scarey. My wife and I have been Carers for our two,now adult, children for almost 40 years. Now my wife is also disabled. We”ve spent most of our money on caring and escapism and have very little left for emergencies or longer term needs. I worry what will happen to my wife and adult children once I’m gone, but don’t honestly see what more I can do. I have witnessed a constant deterioration in care services over the past few decades and now older people are being increasingly described as a “burden” on the working population. I’m burying my head in the sand and que sera, sera.

Member

It doesn’t have to be BSH -dont bury your head in the sand and its not -que sera sera but veni vidi vici . At the next election vote for the party that supports the de-privatisation of the NHS and re-nationalisation of care homes. Never ever !! give up fight for what you think is right , a single wave through time can cut a hole in a piece of rock. All it takes is people to think of others rather than their share prices and house prices and pay more tax or force Amazon etc to pay their fair share.

Member
Sara Cutler says:
24 August 2018

Neither my Husband or I have been able to put any money aside for our own care, as twenty seven years of caring for our severely disabled son has meant that our finances have never recovered enough to do so.

Member
Mrs Jacqueline Butcher says:
25 August 2018

Oh Boy! Do I care about unpaid carers ! I WAS ONE ! My mother had a stroke back in the 60’s. At the time we were living and working in a public house. I had three older brothers, making me the only girl. My mother made enquiries to the DHSS. A “welfare” officer was sent to discuss her situation. After answering questions from “welfare” officers my mother asked if she could claim any service/services or get any help in any way. The answer was “Oh, you won’t be able to claim any help because you have a daughter at home” End of discussion. I was still at school with plans to stay on as a sixth-former and take GSE exams. No chance ! I had to give up on that idea, and my part-time Art College course. I never realised until many years later what the full cost of it (to me) was. I get angry now, when I think back and realise how I was literally on. There are many children, even now, who are the unpaid carers of a disabled or ill parent.
Many years later we found out about Attendance Allowance (which my mother would have been eligible for) quite by accident. No-one ever thought to let us know about.
I have not made any plans for my future care. I simply can’t afford it. I think that in a way, I paid my share of care years ago.

Member

Jacqueline if you were German you would be paid to employ somebody to look after you at home or enter a care home that really cares . Two types of insurance exists there public and private . Contributions to the public one are compulsory based on the ability to pay and is paid in varying amounts depending on your income , private is allowed above a certain income level , approx 70 % in German care homes are female , no large scale scandals of bad care homes the authorities clamp down hard on them . There are a lot more benefits available , in other words Germans CARE for other Germans and show it but that is part of the German socialist society its capitalism with a heart.

Member
Shellyann says:
25 August 2018

I cared for both my parents, and I wasn’t entitled to nothing, works and pensions came out to access my mum and dad and they asked if I was eligible for any kind of benefit and the answer was no,. But at the time I wasn’t bothered, I didn’t warn them to go into a home, my mum passed away 2012 with cancer so I than took on mums role looking after dad who had loads of medical problems, I cared for him first at his own home than it got to much for me and dad so dad asked if he could come a live with me and he did I was there 24/7 everyday , I didn’t leave the house for nearly a year, my dad came first, I’m not saying it was easy it wasn’t it was hard work, the only time I was asked if we needed help was when my dad passed away ,. A bit to late. I wouldent change what I did but even if they had asked if I needed just 1 hour to myself , may be I would have turned it down but it would have been nice to have been asked. My heart goes out to all the careers, they do a wonderful job. With little or no support.

Member

Your post, Shellyann, should be posted on the Front Benches of Westminster .

Member
Maggie Anderson says:
25 August 2018

I was a carer for my husband, disabled in a car accident that was not his fault, for 35 years. He died in January.
For the first 12 years, I was not recognised as a ‘carer’ because he was not considered as needing Attendance Allowance, so I paid no NI conts and received no money (and my State Pension suffered). For the following 16 years, I existed on Carers Allowance, which ceased when I was 60, and I had a reduced State Pension. At this point, our marriage broke down, due mainly to stress and poverty, and we separated for 9 years, until his kidneys failed and he went onto dialysis.
At the age of sixty eight, I was travellng daily to the next county, to his home, a round trip of 32 miles. He was admitted to hospital multiple times last year, and on his final discharge, everyone in authority was completed baffled when I told them I could not continue in my caring role. I was then 71, coping completely on my own, shopping, cooking,and cleaning for him. I normally worked, between the two homes, a 12 – 14 hour day, 7 days a week. I ran on adreneline, caffeine and sugar, and was a burned out wreck. Some sort of ‘home from hospital’ care was put in place, and I was told that they would ‘take over’ the care, but they didn’t. They did check on him 3 times a day at least, but no shopping, cooking or cleaning, so I still needed to go over several times a week.
On his final evening, they did at least bother to tell me that he had forgotten to charge his phone, so was unable to have our daily 59 minute evening chat. The following morning I was called out because they could not gain entry, and I was the keyholder. 40 minutes later, by the time I had driven there, he was lying dead. I later discovered that not only did he have no landline, he had been left with no other means of summoning help, and I shall never know if he could have survived had he had the means to call 999.

Member
Marina says:
25 August 2018

I for one of many only get £111 pension a week. After paying my utility bills and food,there is nothing to save. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t get money off the government. After working for many years and putting a little away, I’m worse of than those that spent and never saved. They get all the perks!!. The one thing I do have is my pride. My only asst is my house,and if I need to go into care I will lose that,so there will be nothing to leave my daughter after funeral expenses..

Member
billy.quigley says:
25 August 2018

Hi all we live in sad times most young folk think of today and not tomorrow, i worked all my days and i am now retired to a full time job of non paid carer for my wife witch i do gladly but it hurts when you hear all of the people who have not worked a day in their life wanting hand outs to care for some one they should be caring for any way. the system is unfair it discriminates against the working men or women who have worked to retire and have some quality of retired life but alas that not their as they just started to actualy take care of a loved one that deserve to be taken care of by some one who will give them their all..

Member
Debra Yianni says:
11 September 2018

There is nothing worse than be “cared for”, especially if you’ve suddenly lost your independence. Most carers, especially family members,can resent how it ties them down and cramps their life-style. So then you have the misery of losing your own independence and then the guilt of relying on others. Give us all a break. There must be a better way, i.e. relief for family members caring so that carer and cared for person get a break from each other. The whole system sucks, we need more community and communal living. The situation at the moment just plain sucks!

Member

Ever hear the word Sacrifice Debra – resent how it ties them down ?- thats selfish -cramps lifestyle – Wow ! / Look up the word to CARE to get the real meaning. I speak from 19 years of CARING for my severely handicapped wife , I dont look for medals or even sympathy its my duty to look after someone I LOVE .

Member

Hey Debra, you make a very interesting point about family members acting as carers needing care and relief themselves – I’m sure many would agree with you.

Duncan, thanks for sharing your experience throughout this convo.

Member

Debra makes a very valid point. Carers need to remain healthy and strong both physically, and perhaps more importantly, psychologically, to meet the demands made upon them.

Log onto: which.co.uk – Looking after yourself

Member

I agree with Debra about family members who are carers needing support. However, I believe it is a duty of family members – but hopefully one they will embrace wholeheartedly – to care for their loved ones, albeit with expert help and guidance where it is needed. While not all families may have good relationships I believe most do, and caring for other members is simply repaying the efforts they made to care for you when you were growing up.

I also believe that caring needs love, compassion, patience and presence that a professional care system cannot give in the same way that loving family members can, however hard it tries.