Charity: Unpaid carers struggling
Six out of 10 carers who had been looking after someone for more than five years had never accessed additional support, a study shows
Thousands of unpaid carers are suffering health and career problems because of the struggle to look after sick or disabled family members without help, a new charity has said.
Almost six out of 10 of those polled by the Carers Trust said the strain of looking after a loved one had affected their mental health while the same amount said it had harmed their working life.
Around two-thirds (64%) said they had never accessed any support or services such as counselling or respite breaks while six out of 10 carers who had been looking after someone for more than five years had never accessed any additional support.
There are approximately six million carers in the UK looking after unwell or disabled friends or family, the charity said. Many find the physical and mental strain of caring has a huge impact, leaving them feeling isolated and without a place to go to seek help and advice.
Anne Roberts, chief executive of Carers Trust, which works to improve services and support for unpaid carers, said: "As this survey shows, many unpaid carers have never accessed any support services to help them in their caring role.
"We've launched Carers Trust so we can ensure that all carers know where to go to get that help when they need it and to help society recognise and value the role of carers in our communities across the UK."
Almost six in 10 (59%) carers said their role had a negative impact on their working life, the survey of 500 unpaid adult carers found. A total of 58% said that their mental health has been affected by being a carer while more than a quarter (27%) said both their physical and mental health had been adversely affected by their role.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We absolutely agree that the social care system is in need of reform. We have worked with people, including care providers and charities, to see what changes they want made in care and support.
"Their feedback - more than 600 formal responses - has shaped the forthcoming White Paper. This will make sure we create a sustainable system that will mean people and their carers get the quality of care they want.
"In the Spending Review, the Government recognised the pressures on the adult social care system, and took the decision to prioritise adult social care by allocating an additional £7.2 billion to the system over the four years to 2014/15."