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Supporting carers to be Healthy and Connected

Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience, enriching relationships and bringing satisfaction and wellbeing. However, caring for others often comes at a cost to carers’ own health and wellbeing as they put their own health needs to the back of the queue.

To be Healthy and Connected, carers need the information and practical support to care safely without harming their own physical and mental health and the right advice and financial support to be able to stay fit and eat healthily. Carers need access to breaks – from a few hours to a couple of weeks – to recharge the batteries and maintain a life of their own alongside caring.

All parts of our communities have a part to play in connecting carers and helping them get the support they need to care without putting off their own health needs or losing important relationships with others. This could include an employer creating Carer Friendly policies by listening to the experiences of their workforce, a GP practice offering an annual health check or alternative appointment times to carers struggling to attend due to their caring responsibilities or a leisure centre offering special deals for carers.

We need to work together to create carer friendly communities which support carers health and wellbeing. Carers Week and all the partner organisations are committed to making this happen.

What do carers say they want?

The Carers Week charities work with carers across the country and listen to what is important to carers and their families, and what they need from the people, organisations and services in their lives.

Carers say they want to live in communities that both support them to care well and be healthy themselves, to be able to work if they want to, and to have a life of their own outside their caring role. They want to be treated as individuals with their own health and wellbeing needs, and not only as a carer of someone else.

What are the health and wellbeing issues affecting carers?

By 2037, there will be nine million carers in the UK. Many people will care for someone multiple times in their lives, but often do not think of themselves as a carer. They see themselves as just a husband or wife, son or daughter, parent or friend, doing what needs to be done. Carers need help to recognise their caring role and the support that’s available to them.

The health and wellbeing needs of the carer can sometimes be overshadowed by the health conditions of the loved one they are looking after. People are rarely prepared for the health impact that caring responsibilities can have on their own lives, with three out of four carers saying they were not prepared for caring1.

'I never get asked if I need any support. My gp, even though he knows I'm a carer, does not ask how things are going or whether I need further help. Something only gets done when I ask. I feel GPs are the best people to know your health situation, and just like they offer annual health checks to patients. They should offer annuals checks for carers too to ensure all levels of care are maintained throughout, not just when you need something.'

  • Carers can find it challenge of 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 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 role2.
  • 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 group3.
  • 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 caring4

    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 anxious5.
  • 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 caring6.
  • 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%) health7.

How can I support carers to become Healthy and Connected?

In all corners of our communities, we see ways to reach carers earlier with information and support which can improve their health and wellbeing. Many carers, struggle to find the right support. But, we also see good examples of how communities can become carer friendly.

Here are some ways that you can help us to build communities that support the health and wellbeing of carers.

 

 


Carers Week (2012), Prepared to Care 
Carers UK (2017) State of Caring Report 2017
3 NHS England GP Patient Survey 2016
Carers Week (2016),  Building Carers Friendly Communities
Carers UK (2017) State of Caring Report 2017
Carers Week (2016),  Building Carers Friendly Communities
Carers UK (2017) State of Caring Report 2017

 

 

 

Carers Week 2018

These organisations joined together to make Carers Week happen in 2018

  • logo01
  • Carers UK new logo
  • image description
  • independent age
  • MacMillan Logo
  • MSS-logo-orange partnersrow
  • MND logo
  • Which Elderly Care logo

Proudly supported by:

  • Nutricia

 

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