ESTIMATED 101,000 CANCER CARERS IN WALES SUPPORTING LOVED ONES WITH CANCER
Macmillan Cancer Support is revealing today that there are now an estimated 101,000  cancer carers in Wales supporting their loved ones with cancer.
This estimated figure was revealed in a new report - Under pressure – The growing strain on cancer carers – which was published today.
The report also revealed that around 110,000 people in the UK are caring for a parent with cancer, which could include everything from taking care of finances to washing and dressing them, while also looking after their own children, according to a new report launched today by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The report also says that almost 1 in 10 UK cancer carers are “sandwich caring.”2 Most of them (89%) are also juggling a job as well as caring for someone with cancer.
The report, based on research commissioned by YouGov, shows that the majority (70%) of all cancer carers are now aged 45 or over. In 2011, over half (57%) were in this age group.3 The overall number of cancer carers has risen by nearly a third (31%) to almost 1.5 million 4 in the last five years.
Macmillan warns of the debilitating effect caring for someone with cancer can have on a person’s life. Up to 7 in 10 (70%) of all cancer carers experience mental health problems as a result of caring, including stress, anxiety and depression. Caring is also having a greater impact on the physical health of those who care such as exhaustion and insomnia.5 Additionally, almost one in three carers (30%) say their income or household finances are affected and four in 10 (43%) of those currently in employment report that caring affects their working lives.
While carers are carrying out more complex tasks and putting in more hours of care than ever before, worryingly more than half (55%) are not getting any additional support - a figure that has not improved from 2011.
Many do not see themselves as carers or do not know what support is available. This means they can remain hidden from health and social care professionals who are unaware they are struggling.
Macmillan provides a range of information for carers through its website, information resources and telephone helpline which is staffed by cancer specialists who offer practical, medical, emotional and financial support. The charity is urging cancer carers to get in touch to ensure no one has to cope alone.
The charity relies on fundraising and voluntary donations for 99% of its income, to fund its vital services. Events such as Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 30 September this year are key to ensuring Macmillan can carry on supporting carers and people affected by cancer.
Paula Hall, Macmillan Carers Support Co-ordinator in Bridgend, said: “Nobody plans to become a carer – it can just happen. Cancer carers just get on with looking after the person affected by cancer as well as coping with the demands of everyday family life.
“Cancer carers can find themselves being pulled in all directions and they don’t have spare time to think about themselves. There can be an impact on their emotional and physical health but cancer carers can actually feel guilty about this.
“Becoming a cancer carer can have a massive financial impact on lives and increases the pressure that they are already under. Financial advice and support is the most frequently asked question that cancer carers ask me about.
“Sometimes they are juggling jobs too – and unfortunately not everyone has an employer who can empathise and support the cancer carer.”
Susan Morris, Head of Services at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We know that caring for someone affected by cancer can be tough and it’s saddening to hear of the growing strain on cancer carers. It’s important that carers in Wales have access to advice and support.
“At Macmillan we offer online, telephone and face-to-face support. Our telephone support line is free and is staffed by cancer specialists who offer practical, medical, emotional and financial support. We have Cancer Information Support Services in some hospitals in Wales and our information and support and our welfare benefits advisers offer face-to-face support people to affected by cancer.
“We’re concerned that people living in rural Wales should be supported too and we have and two mobile units that visit some of our most isolated communities to offer face-to-face information and support.”
“At Macmillan we believe that cancer carers should not feel isolated and alone.”
Macmillan offers information and advice to people caring for someone with cancer on its website www.macmillan.org.uk/carers and support line 0808 808 00 00.
The research consisted of two phases:
· Phase one: Face-to-face interviews with 6,487 people from the UK general population via the TNS omnibus survey, between 26th February and 22nd March 2016 – this identified the overall proportion of cancer carers in the UK population. People currently supporting someone with cancer were defined as carers for the purposes of the research if they provided more than five hours of care a week (‘care’ was determined by asking them if they did any of a range of activities for someone because they had cancer) or provided 1-4 hours of care a week but said it had an impact on their lives. It does not include those who provide care as their paid job or voluntary work. Results have been weighted to be representative of the UK adult population according to age, gender, UK region and socio-economic group. Data weighting and all analysis carried out by YouGov. The estimated number of cancer carers in Wales in 2016 is 101,000.
· Phase two: An online survey with 892 UK cancer carers only, via YouGov’s online panel, between 4th and 18th April 2016 – this allowed us to explore the experiences of carers in more detail. The survey was carried out online. Results were weighted by age, gender, social grade and region to reflect the overall population of carers identified in phase 1.The unweighted UK breakdown of the sample was as follows: England: 740 people; Scotland: 87; Wales: 47; Northern Ireland:18. The breakdown within England was as follows: North East: 40; North West: 91; Yorkshire & Humber: 81; East Midlands: 62; West Midlands: 73; East of England: 83; London: 72; South East: 136; South West: 102.
· Please note :8% of respondents from phase two were caring for a parent and also had children living at home, which we refer to throughout this release as ‘sandwich carers’. The population estimate of c.110,000 is based on applying the incidence of sandwich carers ( 8%) to the total estimated number of carers in the UK (1,416,000).
2. “Sandwich generation cancer carers” make up almost 1 in 10 (8%) of cancer carers.
3. Macmillan Cancer Support/Ipsos MORI. More than a Million: Understanding the UK’s carers of people with cancer. 2011. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/
People currently supporting someone with cancer were defined as carers for the purposes of the research if they provided more than five hours of care a week (‘care’ was determined by asking them if they did any of a range of activities for someone because they had cancer) or provided 1-4 hours of care a week but said it had an impact on their lives. It does not include those who provide care as their paid job or voluntary work. Please see the full report (on the link above) for a more detailed explanation of how carers were identified as part of this research.
Research carried out via Ipsos MORI’s face-to-face omnibus survey of the general public. Fieldwork conducted between 20 May and 25 August 2011. 18,449 members of the UK public aged 15+ were screened to identify current carers of someone with cancer. In total 386 fitted eligibility criteria and were interviewed in more depth. Results have been weighted to be representative of the UK adult population.
4. The estimated number of UK cancer carers in 2016 is 1,416,000 compared with 1,080,000 in 2011, an increase of 31%.
5. One in five (20%) carers experience one or more issues with their physical health as a result of caring, compared with around one in eight (13%) in 2011. The separate Phase 2 study found that 35% experience one or more issues with their physical health as a result of caring.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk