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Just how important are unpaid care workers? - Carers Rights Day

Friday, November 25th, 2016 | Blog

There are many different professions within the healthcare industry, but none of them are as misunderstood or important as the role of an unpaid carer. Unpaid carers often don’t expect they will become a carer, but due to a sudden illness or accident they find themselves being the sole lifeline for a person unable to look after themselves. All of a sudden their life is completely changed, the freedom they once had is now gone, and they can no longer just worry about themselves. This is the reality facing families that need to care for a friend or family member.


A 2015 report on care workers by Carers UK found that over 2 million people have given up working to care for someone, and 3 million people are balancing a job alongside caring. This means that many people are getting by on savings they have, or they are simply relying on support from benefits in order to survive. What’s worse is that many people caring at home don’t know about the support they have access to; 42% of carers missed out on financial support because they did not have access to the right information and advice.


The demand for unpaid care is only going to rise over the next few years, especially with medicine improving and the older generation living longer. Alzheimer’s and dementia are now the leading cause of death in the United Kingdom, a disease inexplicably linked with old age. It is no surprise then that 10% of all unpaid care in the United Kingdom is for someone living with dementia.


Caring for loved ones and relatives is fundamental to our society and without it many people would go without any form of care. Unpaid care work is also vital to the NHS, without it, the service would likely struggle even more. This is evident in the fact that unpaid carers save the economy a whopping £132 billion a year, that’s more than the cost of a second NHS. This is why it is so important that unpaid care workers know and understand the support that is open to them.


Alongside various forms of support from the government, there are several organisations providing advice to carers. It’s important that those caring for relatives or loved ones know that they are not alone, regardless of how hard or stressful life is. The Carers UK website is full of helpful advice and stories written by people that are also carers. So please remember that you are alone and there is a lot of support out there available to you.


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