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10th June 2019

UK’s unpaid carers seven times lonelier than general public

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Unpaid carers looking after loved ones living with an illness, disability, mental health condition or as they grow older are seven times more likely to be lonely compared with the general public, new figures suggest.

Not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three unpaid carers (35%) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (5%) of the general population.

Research released for Carers Week 2019 (10th – 16th June) also reveals unpaid carers feel what they do in life is significantly less worthwhile compared with the rest of the population, with those struggling financially over a third less likely to feel that the things they do in their life are worthwhile. This is despite the vital support carers provide their loved ones and their enormous contribution to society.

The extent of loneliness and poor wellbeing amongst carers is revealed as new estimates suggest there could be far more people caring unpaid than previously thought.

There are a potential 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, up from 6.3 million estimated in the 2011 census – a huge increase of a third.

The research comes from a survey of carers, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care for a loved one each week.

Evidence shows those worst affected by loneliness are parent carers looking after disabled children under 18 years old, being nearly ten times lonelier than the general public.

Unpaid carers report being twice as anxious as the general public, and those struggling financially or going without practical support with caring are half as satisfied with life as the rest of the population.

The findings show how financial and practical support can help improve the wellbeing of the UK’s 8.8 million carers and get them better connected to their communities.

Looking at the research, it's important for organisations to offer support to employees with caring responsibilities and to create a culture where they can balance their work commitments with their caring responsibilities. Some ways for you to offer support include:

  • Reviewing your employment documentation to ensure policies and procedures are inclusive and representative of a modern family who may have caring responsibilities.
  • Encouraging line managers and employees to talk to each other about any issues they face where support may be needed. Some people may be reluctant to disclose their caring responsibilities at work in fear of it changing the way they are perceived. In extreme cases, employees may be taking time off work sick to care for someone else, instead of openly talking about their problems.
  • Introducing paid care leave so that carers are not forced to take annual leave for caring emergencies.

You can read the Carers Week full report here.

To help raise awareness for Carers Week, we have launched a Carers Infographic, which is free for Members. You can download it here.