There are currently around 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers – are you 1 of them?
According to the Carers Trust, 3 in 5 people will become a carer at some point in their life. But many of those who provide care and support for others don’t think of themselves as carers.
The truth is a carer is anyone who cares for a friend, relative or neighbour who would struggle to cope without their help – usually because of physical or mental illness, disability, dependency issues or age – and who doesn’t get paid for it.
You don’t have to be any particular age to be a carer. According to Carers UK, the majority of carers are of working age, with the peak age for caring being 50 - 64. But many younger people are carers too. The 2011 Census showed almost 178,000 young adults and children under the age of 18 had caring responsibilities, with many caring for a lone parent.
What qualifies as care?
Whether you provide care for someone every day, or visit them once a week or less to check how they’re getting on, there are many things you may do for them that you may not realise is caring for them. You may provide practical support, such as:
- Doing their shopping
- Making them regular or occasional meals
- Helping them to get out and about (or just moving around their home)
- Helping them with things like washing, dressing and shaving
- Doing their laundry and cleaning
- Reading their letters and managing their household bills
- Helping them with social services and benefits
- Making sure they keep important appointments (such as going to their doctor or hospital)
- Keeping them company
- Helping them with their medicines
Are you missing out?
Everything that carers do helps save the economy a fortune. According to Carers UK, carers save the government £132 billion a year (an average of £19,336 per carer). But while caring can be a positive and rewarding experience, there are lots of ways it can affect the lives of those who provide it. And not realising that you’re a carer could mean you’re missing out on support.
Figures from Carers UK suggest 1 in 5 carers have to give up work to provide care for someone. For these people – as well as those who give up full-time work to go part time – it can be hard to make ends meet.
Many carers also have problems with their own health, sometimes as a direct consequence of providing care. Carers who provide round-the-clock care for instance, are more than twice as likely to be in bad health than non-carers.
For some carers, it can be difficult to carry on with their own lives. They may feel isolated, and unable to get out of the house to see friends or have a social life. Young carers may also find it difficult to keep up with school, college or university.
But the good news is there’s help and advice available for carers. If you’re a carer, you have certain rights. This includes the right to have a carer’s assessment from your local authority’s social services department, to request flexible working from your employer and to receive Carer’s Allowance if you need financial support.
We can help
Why not let us help you? At CABA, we provide a range of services for past or present ICAEW members, their families and carers. Our support officers can help with emotional support, financial and debt advice, and help with benefits and legal advice.
We can even help organise and pay for respite care when you need a break, as well as help with things like home adaptations and specialist equipment. Most importantly, we’re always here to listen whenever you need someone to talk to.
If you’re a carer, our Care matters newsletter is produced just for you and is available to read online.