As nation heads off for Easter holidays, charity’s study highlights massive strain on unpaid carers
As families look forward to well-deserved holidays this Easter, research by national disabled people’s charity Revitalise has revealed that for unpaid carers, the luxury of any kind of break may just be a distant dream.
The charity – which provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers at three accessible UK centres – is highlighting the huge mental and physical toll that caring is taking on the estimated 6.8 million unpaid carers across the UK, as well as their fears for the future.
Revitalise’s study revealed that more than half of carers (52%) did not know how they would be able to cope if things continued the way they were and 4 out of 10 were fearful they would end up ill, in chronic pain or disabled themselves – not surprising since more than 5 out of 10 (55%) of carers had been caring for 10 years or more and over a quarter (30%) were aged 70 or over. An astonishing quarter of respondents (26%) revealed they had a pre-existing illness or injury even before they took on the role of carer.
To make matters worse and despite the known therapeutic value of respite, the majority of carers found themselves unable to take any time off from caring. In a separate study, Revitalise found that over a third (34%) of carers had never had any significant time away since they started caring.
In order to provide further support for carers, Revitalise has embedded a dedicated online carers’ forum, the Simplyhealth Care Community, within its website. The forum was developed by long-term partner Simplyhealth – with whom Revitalise has enjoyed a productive partnership since 2013 – and is powered by the social network HealthUnlocked. The Simplyhealth Care Community enables unpaid carers to be part of an online support community, a place where they can talk about their concerns, experiences and ask questions from others in a similar situation.
In addition, Revitalise is once again calling for more funding to give unpaid carers all the support they need and renewing its call for sufficient funding for respite breaks to be a fundamental element of all social care provision.
Revitalise CEO Chris Simmonds commented:
“As Easter approaches most of us are looking forward to long weekends, city breaks or holidays with the family, but for the majority of carers, Easter will be no different to any other time of year.
“While we acknowledge that most carers do what they do out of love, there is no denying that providing care for a loved one is physically and emotionally draining.
“That’s why we are proud to add Simplyhealth Care Community to our website. It is the latest of a raft of measures we are able to offer the UK’s carers thanks to our partnership with Simplyhealth.
“Revitalise has been providing respite for disabled people and carers for over 50 years, so we know there is no substitute for time off, but forums such as Simplyhealth Care Community have a key part to play in relieving isolation and enabling carers to draw strength from others in a similar position.”
Simplyhealth Chief Commercial Officer, Raman Sankaran, added:
“At a time when most people are celebrating their time off, we understand that the UK’s carers are still hard at work, as they have been every other day, selflessly providing care for a loved one. They may consider the role of carer to be their duty – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need support.
“Sometimes caring for a loved one can feel isolating. The Simplyhealth Care Community provides carers with a space to talk to other carers. To be able to openly share their concerns with a community who are listening and willing to provide their support and advice. We should never underestimate the power of talking to others who are in a similar situation.
“Like Revitalise we want to help people make the most of life.”