Woman on swing

Today is Carers Rights Day and this year’s theme is Missing Out.

Findings from research carried out by Carers UK shows that parents of children with additional needs are slower to identify themselves as carers and find information and support for themselves.

People often don’t see themselves as carers and aren’t identified and, as a result, miss out on support. Half of carers (52%) surveyed said missing out on support as a result of not identifying as a carer impacted negatively on their finances and a similar number (50%) said it had an impact on their physical health.

Carers are missing out

New research published today Missing Out: the identification challenge reveals that:

  • More than half of people (54%) took over a year to recognise their caring role, almost one in four (24%) took over 5 years to identify as a carer, and nearly one in ten (9%) took over 10 years.
  • Some groups of carers, such as those caring for disabled children or people with mental health conditions, or caring at a distance, take longer than average to identify their role.
  • Nine in ten (91%) of carers said they missed out on financial or practical support (or both) as a result of not identifying as a carer.
  • Three quarters of carers (78%) said missing out on support as a result of not identifying as a carer meant they suffered from stress and anxiety
  • Two in five carers (42%) said missing out on support as a result of not identifying as a carer caused them to give up work to care.

The charity is using Carers Rights Day to reach as many of the 6.5 million carers in the UK as possible with information about their rights. This includes the financial and practical help they are entitled to: including benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, respite and access to equipment and technology which could help them in their caring role.

On a positive note, the research suggested there has been an increase of 10% in the number of people who recognised their caring role within the first year of caring. Nearly half (46%) of those who responded to this question compared to 36% of people in 2006; showing the difference that public awareness campaigns and support provided by Carers UK and others has made.

‘Just something you do’

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said, ‘For many people, looking after an ill, older or disabled loved one doesn’t have a name, it is “just something you do”. However, not recognising you are carrying out a caring role can be a barrier to accessing vital support. The longer it takes to identify as an unpaid carer, the more likely it is that carers will struggle without the support and advice they need. Frontline professionals, such as GPs, teachers and social workers, play a central role in ensuring carers are identified and then guided to support as early as possible in their caring journey.’

Carers UK is calling for:

  • A new duty on the NHS and education professionals to put in place policies to identify carers and to promote their health and wellbeing.
  • Development of education, information and training for a range of frontline professionals to increase knowledge and signposting of carers.
  • Improved access to information and advice for carers.
  • A public awareness campaign to improve understanding and recognition of carers.

Resources for carers

Carers UK has developed a range of tools to help carers, early in their caring journey, get the information and support they need, including:

  • Upfront, the first online guide of its kind gives tailored financial and practical information to those who are new to caring.
  • Looking after someone, an annual guide to carers’ rights and the practical and financial support available.

For more information about the financial and practical support available for carers, visit www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice

Missing Out can be downloaded from the Carers UK website.