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One in four unpaid carers in Wales “have not had a day off” in five years

Carers in Wales are reaching ‘breaking point’ as they struggle to take even a day away from care responsibilities for years at a time, research by Carers UK has found. 4 in 10 (40%) of unpaid carers in Wales have not had a break in over one year, whilst one in four (27%) had not received a single day away from caring in five years.Carers in Wales are reaching ‘breaking point’ as they struggle to take even a day away from care responsibilities for years at a time, research by Carers UK has found. 4 in 10 (40%) of unpaid carers in Wales have not had a break in over one year, whilst one in four (27%) had not received a single day away from caring in five years.

The charity’s report, State of Caring 2017, found that more than a third (37%) of carers in Wales listed access to breaks as one of three factors which could make a difference in their lives. Respondents explained their own personal reasons for needing a break, listing diverse benefits ranging from the opportunity to spend time with partners and children to being able to see a doctor for their own health conditions. Yet few are able to take regular breaks

Despite the catastrophic impact posed by a lack of personal time, 90% of carers in Wales still “struggle” to attain time away from their care duties. Carers in Wales named a number of barriers preventing them from taking a break:

  • Cost - Paying for or contributing towards the cost of a break (28%)
  • Care concerns – Person cared for is unwilling to accept support from others (30%); lack of specialised support on offer (28%); or low confidence in quality of care (18%)
  • Lack of awareness – Carers would not know how to request a break (17%)

The research also charts a growing anxiety around the level of support that will be available against a backdrop of cuts to adult social care services. Over a quarter (27%) of carers in Wales are worried that practical support for them might be reduced in the future.

Claire Morgan, Director, Carers Wales, said:

“More and more of us are stepping in to provide care and support to loved ones and doing so for more hours every week. Without access to breaks, carers can quickly reach breaking point, unable to look after their own health, nurture relationships with friends and family or have the time they need to themselves. Our research shows that carers are struggling to get a break because appropriate support for their loved ones isn’t available or services they rely on are being cut or charged for.

Given the enormous value of unpaid care provided by the 370,000 carers in Wales, estimated to be worth over £8 billion each year – getting some time away from caring to spend time with a partner, get to a medical appointment or just get a full night’s sleep surely isn’t too much to ask.”

Carers Wales believes that immediate practical action on the following is needed to make a difference to carers’ lives:

  • A new Carers Strategy for Wales must set out how improved support for carers will be achieved with targets and milestones so carers can see the progress beingmade.
  • Increased and ring-fenced funding for carers’ breaks, offering a transparency and consistency across local authorities to those who need a break from caring.
  • Sustainable funding settlements for social care and the NHS, including the provision of housing fit for caring, affordable care services, and technology that supports carers.
  • Carer-friendly NHS, including policies that help identify carers and to promote ourhealth and well-being resources.#
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