There are around 6.4 million unpaid carers in the UK who provide care and support to family, friends and neighbours, saving the country an estimated £119 billion each year.
This year, new Carers UK research has also pointed to the additional pressure faced by ‘sandwich carers’ who are juggling childcare with looking after ageing or disabled relatives. A survey of over 1,000 ‘sandwich carers’ showed that 4 in 10 were struggling to cope, with two thirds reporting strain on marriages and personal relationships and three quarters saying they had seen a drop in earnings as they struggle to combine work with family responsibilities.
Carers are fulfilling a vital role in our society, but too often they go without the support they need. We must all play a role in helping to identify and support people who are looking after ill, frail or disabled loved ones; particularly if they are looking after young children as well.
Carers UK Chief Executive Heléna Herklots said: “More and more families are finding themselves struggling to juggle childcare, care for older parents and work. Often carers aren’t given advice and don’t realise there is support out there - it is crucial they access to information and support to help them manage.”Carers can order a free booklet called Looking after someone: a guide to carers’ rights and benefits from Carers UK by visiting www.carersuk.org or calling Carers UK’s Adviceline on 0808 808 7777.
· Key statistics from the report are highlighted below.
· The full research report is available to download at www.carersuk.org/sandwichcaring
If you’d like to tweet about the day we are using the hashtag #CarersRightsDay and here are a couple of template tweets:
· Today is #CarersRightsDay – helping UK's 6.4m #carers access support. Advice and info available from @Carers UK at carersuk.org
· On #CarersRightsDay @CarersUK research has highlighted the pressures of #sandwichcaring http://bit.ly/Siy6Lo
Sandwich caring families under pressure
Sandwich generation parents are emotionally and financially overwhelmed by the pressures of raising children alongside caring for ageing relatives, new research from Carers UK reveals.
The research, which coincides with national Carers Rights Day, showed that four in ten (42%) sandwich carers were struggling to cope as their careers, family finances and relationships suffered.
Three quarters of sandwich carers surveyed for the research had seen a loss of earnings and 95% said the pressure affected their ability to work. As a result, more than half (52%) said the cost of caring for older relatives was squeezing family finances – even more than the number struggling with childcare costs (50%).
The pressure of simultaneously shouldering responsibility for young and old is also putting huge strains on family life - with two-thirds of sandwich carers reporting damage to their marriages or personal relationships.
Across the UK there are an estimated 2.4 million ‘sandwich carers’ - as around a fifth of 45 to 60-year-olds are actively supporting parents while their children are still at home. To tackle this growing challenge, Carers UK is calling for care services and workplaces to adapt urgently to the changing shape of family life.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “An ageing population means that caring for older or disabled loved ones is inevitable for all our families. Care services and workplaces must catch up with this reality of family life. Currently, families too often cannot access the support they need and are finding themselves squeezed between childcare, care for older parents and work – under pressure from all sides, and seeing their finances, careers and personal relationships suffer.”
Just over half of carers (54%) juggled work and caring for children and older relatives, but a third had to give up work to meet the demands of their dual caring role. Women were four times more likely than men to have given up work to care.
Of those who continued to work, one in five (22%) found their jobs suffered through stress, tiredness and lateness. One in eight (13 per cent) had reduced their hours and 7% had to take a less qualified job.
Carers UK is calling for urgent reform of social care funding, measures to stimulate a new generation of affordable care services, effective use of technology to help families juggle work with caring responsibilities and advice and information to ensure families can access support.