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Unpaid carers in Wales have saved £33 million every day of the pandemic

Unpaid carers in Wales have saved £33 million every day of the pandemic

Yet only 7% of adults are aware that carers have legal rights

With every day of the COVID-19 pandemic that passes, unpaid carers in Wales are saving the Welsh Government £33 million in the care they provide, new research by charity Carers Wales shows.

The research, released for Carers Rights Day, estimates that the care provided by people looking after someone who has a physical or mental illness, is older or has a disability during the pandemic stands at £8.4 billion so far, after just eight months.

Furthermore, Carers Rights Day polling found that 91% of adults in Wales think unpaid carers have been important during the COVID-19 pandemic, in supporting family or friends with disability or illness.

Despite the public’s appreciation of the vital contribution unpaid carers have made in Wales, only 7% knew that unpaid carers have legal rights

With many crucial face-to-face support services such as day centres and support groups significantly reduced or closed, Carers Wales is warning that people caring round the clock are going to break down after months of caring without respite and the support they need.

Carers Wales is calling on Welsh Government to commit to:

  • A large scale public, awareness raising campaign to increase awareness of unpaid carers and their legal rights to information, advice and support contained in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act
  • Systematic identification of carers by health and social care professionals, and the introduction of a new duty on the NHS to identify carers and promote their health and wellbeing
  • Increased levels of financial support to carers services at the local level

Claire Morgan, Director for Carers Wales, warned:

“Our latest research shows that society overwhelmingly values the critical role unpaid carers have had during the pandemic, however the lack of core funding and general knowledge around carers’ rights have left many unpaid carers feeling overlooked and unrewarded.

The Welsh Government must acknowledge the enormous contribution made by carers who have been the unrecognised third pillar of health and social care during this pandemic. If their contribution had to be replaced by state funded statutory services, it would cost a staggering £33 million every single day. This contribution is not sustainable, with many carers saying they are exhausted. It is crucial that carers are identified quicker and have better information and mainstream funded support to ensure they are able to continue to care safely and are also supported to look after their own health and well-being”.

About the research

The estimated value of unpaid care in this briefing is based on representative polling completed with YouGov in October and November 2020. 5,741 people were polled. The polling asked:

Do you currently give unpaid support to someone who is older, seriously ill, or has a disability?

Those currently providing unpaid care were asked

Approximately, how many hours per week on average do you provide unpaid support? (Please select the option that best applies)

  • 0-9 hours a week
  • 10-19 hours a week
  • 20-49 hours a week
  • More than 50 hours a week

Using the answers to these questions and ONS 2019 mid-year population estimates[1] for over 18s. The number of hours of unpaid care provided on a weekly basis across the UK was calculated by using the mid-point of each category (ie 5 hours for 0-9 hours) except for the last category which was capped at 50 hours. This was then multiplied by an hourly rate of replacement care (£23), from the Personal Social Services Research Unit at The University of Kent (released in February 2020)[2]. In many cases the care provided by family and friends would be far more costly if it were to be provided by health and social care professionals due to the complexity of care needs.

About Carers Wales

Carers Wales is part of Carers UK. We are a charity led by carers, for carers – our mission is to make life better for carers.

  • We give expert advice, information and support
  • We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
  • We campaign together for lasting change
  • We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers

For practical advice and information about caring, www.carerswales.org or email advice@carerswales.org

We have developed specific information to support carers during the coronavirus pandemic.  at: https://www.carersuk.org/coronavirus

The Carers UK Forum is our online community of carers and is available to carers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Carers can join the forum and Carers Wales at: www.carersuk.org/forum.

Website:          www.carerswales.org

Facebook:       www.facebook.com/CarersWales   

Twitter:            @CarersWales

Carers Wales is part of Carers UK.  Carers UK is a charity registered in England and Wales (246329) and In Scotland (SCO39307) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (864097).

 

[1] Office for National Statistics (2020) Population Estimates - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates

[2] Personal Social Services Research Unit at The University of Kent (2020) ‘Unit costs of health and social care 2019’ https://kar.kent.ac.uk/79286/11/UCFinalFeb20.pdf