A survey by Carers UK shows the huge toll the pandemic is taking on unpaid carers.
‘Over half of carers at breaking point’: Seventy percent of unpaid carers in the UK are having to provide more care for their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak and fifty-five percent feel overwhelmed and near burnout, according to new research.
The survey of nearly 5,000 unpaid carers by Carers UK found that a third (35%) of unpaid carers are providing more care because their local care and support services have been reduced or closed.
It showed that, on average, carers are picking up an additional 10 hours of unpaid care per week due to reduced care and support services and paid care workers isolating or lacking personal protective equipment (PPE).
87% of carers said they are worried about what will happen to the people they care for if they have to self-isolate or become ill.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Unpaid carers are fighting the same battle as care staff and many of our NHS workers: yet they do it behind closed doors and with far less recognition.
“Unlike our fantastic frontline workers they are unable to clock off from their caring responsibilities. Many are overwhelmed and incredibly anxious about how they will manage in the weeks ahead…
“Carers tell us they feel ignored and invisible in this epidemic. The Government must ensure their physical and emotional well-being is supported at this challenging time and monitor the impact of the reduction in care services on carers.”
Carers UK is calling on Government to acknowledge the huge efforts of unpaid carers protecting vulnerable people during this epidemic. Carers desperately want paid care staff to have better access to testing and personal protective equipment, as well as wanting access themselves, so they can keep the people they care for safe.
The new research shows 81% of carers are having to spend more money during the outbreak. The top increases in expenditure include spending more on food (72%) – due to lack of supermarket delivery slots and need for specialist food – and household bills (50%). 1 in 10 are spending more on equipment for the person they care for.
The charity is urging the Government to increase the Carer’s Allowance – the main benefit for people caring unpaid for 35 hours or more each week, just £67.25 a week – to recognize the important role they are playing.