Adults in an unpaid caring role (adult carers)
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for another person who cannot cope without support in their day-to-day life.
Anyone can become a carer.
Unpaid carers save the UK economy over £132bn a year. They are a major asset within the health and social care system, partners in the provision of care and experts in the delivery of care.
Whilst caring is rewarding and can bring life affirming experiences to peoples lives, without the right support, it can also have a significant effect on a person’s health, wellbeing, relationships, employment and finances.
Key inequalities and risk factors
Carers experience negative impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing, educational and employment potential and social contacts and relationships. The Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England 2014-15 report records the following issues for carer health and wellbeing:
- Long-term conditions - 24 per cent of respondents reported that they have a long-standing illness (unchanged from 2012-13)
- Physical disability - 20 per cent reported that they have a physical impairment or disability, down from 21% in 2012-13
- Sensory impairment - 16 per cent reported that they have sight or hearing loss (unchanged from 2012-13)
- Mental health - Eight per cent of respondents reported that they have a mental health problem or illness, up from six per cent in 2012-13
- Employment - 21 per cent of respondents reported that they are not in paid employment because of their caring responsibilities; an increase from 19% in 2012-13
- Young adults – the law for support provision for young carers (Children and Families Act) is different to the law for adults (Care Act 2014) and information, assessments need to be carried out in a timely, joined up way between social care and community services to reduce risk of gaps in support for young people in their caring role when they turn 18
- Age - Working age carers 25-64 represent the largest cohort of carers within Bracknell Forest and this is the group most likely to suffer economic harm as a result of the need to provide care
- Ethnicity - Bracknell Forest has a growing BME population. There is a risk that despite strong family links in some cultural communities, some communities may experience difficulties in their caring role in unfamiliar surroundings and with limited knowledge of English
Facts, figures and trends
The role of carers
The Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England takes place every two years. It is a survey of all unpaid carers who are known to adult social services across the country. The feedback from carers in the 2014-15 report demonstrates how demanding the caring role can be.
- Time in caring role - 20 % of respondents report that they have been performing their caring role for 20 years or more, up from 18 per cent in 2012-13
- Care hours - The time spent looking after or helping a cared-for person varies according to a person’s needs, and 38% of respondents reported that they spend 100 hours or more per week looking after or helping the person they care for, up from 36 per cent in 2012-13
- Care provision - 69 per cent of respondents reported that they provide assistance with personal care, up from 67 per cent in 2012-13. 76 per cent of respondents report that they give medicines (unchanged from 2012-13), and 85 per cent report that they provide emotional support, up from 84 per cent in 2012-13.
Carers are providing more care for two main reasons (Buckner & Yeadle, 2015):
- Care needs are greater – Nationally between 2001 and 2015, the number of people aged 85 and over increased by over 431,000 (+38%) and the number of people with a limiting long-term illness increased by 1.6 million (+16%).
- Less homecare support - Between 2010-11 and 2013-14, less homecare support was provided by local authorities to people with care needs in England (where the reduction was greatest) and in Scotland. Numbers of homecare clients and hours of homecare increased in Wales and Northern Ireland, but still did not keep pace with rising care needs
The value of carers
The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is increases year on year £132 billion per year (Buckner & Yeadle, 2015) and is greater than the NHS Budget. The figures mean that, in 2015, the value of the contribution made by the UK’s carers saves the public purse enormous sums every week, day and hour of the year:
- £2.5 billion per week
- £362 million per day
- £15.1 million per hour
It is because of this contribution by unpaid carers that the Care Act, which came into force on 1 April 2015, gives unpaid carers important new rights and for the first time places carers rights on the same level as those of the people they care for.
Every other year, unpaid carers who are known to adult social services are invited to take part in a national Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey. The survey was developed to learn more about whether services received by carers are helping them in their caring role and their life outside of caring.
Estimated number of carers
The number of unpaid carers was recorded in the Census 2011. Unpaid carers totalled 9,674 people or 8.51% of the population at that time (113,696) of which 5.19% provided 1-19 hours of care a week, 0.97% provided 20-49 hours of care, and 1.63% provided more than 50 care hours. Applying these percentages to the Office for National Statistics mid-year population estimate for 2015 (118,982), the total number of unpaid carers in Bracknell Forest is estimated to be 10,125.
Across the UK, there are 6.5 million people caring unpaid for an ill, older or disabled family member or friend. With an ageing population, and people living longer with long-term conditions, the number of carers and the hours they spend in their caring role will increase.
Quality of life
Carers provide a huge quantity of care, and care for a wide range of conditions as well as completing practical tasks, nursing tasks and giving emotional support and friendship. The 2016 Make Carers Count report highlights the impact of caring on carers’ quality of life:
- Caring can make you physically and emotionally exhausted and often leads to stress, depression and other mental health issues together with physical issues such as back pain
- Caring can affect your relationship with your partner or other family members and sometimes leads to relationship breakdown
To assess overall quality of life, carers are asked 6 questions in the Adult Social Care Survey covering: occupation, control, personal care, safety, social participation and encouragement and support. Each of the questions has three possible answers, which are equated with having:
- no unmet needs in a specific life area or domain (the ideal state)
- some needs met
- no needs met
The overall figures show that despite a fall in carer-reported quality of life between the 2014/15 and 2012/13, the figure is higher than the regional national figures. NHS Digital raw data shows that in Bracknell Forest there is no difference between self-reported quality of life between men and women (8.1) although older carers report higher quality of life (8.7) compared to carers aged 18-64 (7.6).
The 2016 Make Carers Count report states that caring can be very isolating, reducing contact with friends, family and colleagues but also interaction with wider community and services.
Social isolation has a negative impact on mental and physical wellbeing and therefore on quality of life. The proportion of carers who reported that they had as much social contact as they would like is measured in the Adult Social Care survey:
In Bracknell Forest, the 2014/15 figure of 44.2% is statistically significantly better than the average for England.
Satisfaction and involvement in care decisions
Analysis of user surveys suggests that reported satisfaction with services is a good predictor of the overall experience of services and quality.
The figures for Bracknell Forest continue remain higher than regional and national figures and have improved slightly in 2014/15 on the previous period. NHS Digital raw data shows that in Bracknell Forest men (55.9%) were more satisfied than women (47.9%) and that older carers 65+ were more satisfied (60%) than carers aged 18-64 (41.7%).
The Care Act - one year on report (Carers Trust, 2016) highlighted a number of improvements to be made nationally, in particular ensuring carers were unaware of their rights, that their right to support is independent of the person they care for and improved clarity and quality of the carers assessment process.
Assessments: information and involvement
Number of Assessments
Recording the number of new unpaid carers helps ensure they receive the information and support and for the council to assess needs and plan services and support.
It is important to note that this indicator is not a measure of the total number of carers in the population. Compared to the south east region, the borough performs well in identifying new carers, although the Bracknell Forest figures is statistically significantly below the national figure.
Involvement in care decisions
With regard to assessments, carers should be respected as equal partners in service design for those individuals for whom they care – this improves outcomes both for the cared for person and the carer, reducing the chance of breakdown in care. For this reason, there is a specific measure of carer-reported experience in how they have been consulted and involved in decisions about the person they care for by both the NHS and social care in the national Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey:
These figures show that levels of carer involvement have aligned across Bracknell Forest, the south east region and nationally, although the figures have fallen from the previous measurement period.
NHS Digital raw data shows that in Bracknell Forest male carers (77.6%) felt more involved than female carers (71.2%) and that older carers 65+ were more involved (78%) than carers aged 18-64 (68.7%).
Information is key to giving people choice and control in making informed decisions. Providing better information is a requirement of the Care Act. Carers assess the ease of accessing information for their caring role as part of the adult social care survey:
Carers in Bracknell Forest find it easier than carers in the south east region and nationally to find the information they need to support them in their caring role. NHS Digital raw data shows that male carers in Bracknell Forest (75%) found it easier to access information than female carers (68.1%) and that a larger proportion of older carers 65+ found it easier to access information (83.6%) compared to carers aged 18-64 (58.6%).
Employment for carers
Work is a determinant of good health: Not only for financial benefits, work also provides validation, keeps people active and socially connected and is therefore important for physical and mental wellbeing.
Parents, and other people who combine work with caring for dependents, have some specific rights protected by law. These include various types of leave and the right to be considered for flexible working. For example, the Equality Act 2010 protects carers against direct discrimination or harassment because of their caring responsibilities when applying for work or whilst in work because they are 'associated' with someone who is protected by the law. Carers may also apply for can apply for The right to request flexible working and are entitled to Time off for dependants to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Information for carers and employers is available on NHS Choices, a business case for supporting workers is set out by Employers for Carers. NHS Employers has published their policies online for reference and Carer Positive has published best practice for employers for employers who choose to provide additional support above and beyond the legal minimum requirements.
Local support for carers
Carers can access a range of support from local organisations and social care services. The dedicated area for carers on the Public Health Portal can signpost you to a range of advice and information organisations and other tools and resources to help you in your caring role, including the council's website and Signal4Carers, the local information and advice service.
Get involved in carers' issues
The council’s Adult Social Care, Health and Housing department hosts a Carers Issues Strategy Group for representative of local and national carer’s organisations to discuss and inform service developments.
Building a carer friendly community
Launched in 2017, the concept of building communities which support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own is vital, and everyone has a role to play. The Carer Friendly Communities research report sets out how individuals, communities, groups, organisations and workplaces can help build Carer Friendly Communities.
Want to know more?
Building Carer Friendly Communities – Research report for Carers Week (Carers UK, 2016) – Theme based report on carers’ experiences of community, health, employment, education and as older carers including case studies, practice examples and recommendations for commissioners and professionals in the health, social care and local government sectors.
Carers' rights and the Care Act (NHS Choices, 2016) - The NHS guide to the Care Act 2014 sets out carers' legal rights to assessment and support.
Care Act Factsheet 8: The Law for Carers (Department of Health, 2016) – amongst other details, this factsheet describes the legal requirements in relation to assessment, eligibility, support planning, financial assssments and personal budgets.
Care Act Factsheet 11: Transition for children to adult care and support (Department of Health, 2016) - describes how the Care Act supports people moving from children’s to adult care and support services.
Joint Commissioning Strategy for Supporting People in an Unpaid Caring Role (Bracknell Forest Council, 2015) – sets out priorities for improvement in services and support based on consultation with local unpaid carers and representative organisations.
The Care Act - one year on report (Carers Trust, 2016) - highlighted a number of improvements to be made nationally, in particular ensuring carers were unaware of their rights, that their right to support is independent of the person they care for and improved clarity and quality of the carers assessment process.
Carers Strategy: Second National Action Plan 2014-2016 (Department of Health, 2014) – The government’s action plan to support carers, comprising overview of evidence, achievements and progress against the national Carers Strategy of 2008 and the next steps update of 2010.
Make Carers Count: The Carers Trust Strategic Framework (Carers Trust, 2016) – report on carers’ experiences of their caring role and recommendations for designing and delivering services and support that ensure carers are recognised, supported and valued.
Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England, 2014-15 (NHS Digital, 2015) – Information about the survey which covers informal, unpaid carers aged 18 or over, caring for a person aged 18 or over. Links to detailed reports and analysis on support and services received by unpaid carers in the last twelve months.
This page was created on 27 February 2014 and updated on 4 May 2017.
Cite this page:
Bracknell Forest Council. (2017). JSNA – Adult unpaid carers. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/people-places/vulnerable-groups/carers-adult-carers (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)
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