As Carers week approaches, Saga's research shows that not only do the UKs army of unpaid carers look after their loved ones 24/7 365 days a year, they are also subject almost continuously to seven of the top ten workplace stresses: workload, feeling undervalued, the type of work they have to do, taking on other people's work, lack of control over their day, working long hours and frustration with the working environment. Many are nearing physical and emotional exhaustion as a result.
The Queen’s speech this year announced important changes to the social care bill that are set to give carers the rights that will at last give them the dignity and respect they deserve for the role that they play in society.
In 2010, Emma Soames speaking for Saga Respite for Carers Trust took a swipe at government ministers on behalf of carers calling for them to prove their own worth by showing they're in touch with the real challenges faced by carers – and it appears they have taken heed.
“The changes proposed will give carers greater rights and so they should. Carers save the government something like £90 billion a year by providing unpaid care to their loved ones. They don’t care a fig for the money, but should not have to struggle emotionally and financially for doing the right thing” said Emma Soames, Saga Respite for Carers Trust. “Many are simply pushed to the point of extreme exhaustion, but unlike most workers in the UK, they cannot simply hang up their hat for a few days to get a break, in fact their often lucky to be afforded a few hours to themselves to help recharge their batteries.
“Whilst funding is identified as a key concern for carers, one of the biggest issues is that not only do they suffer from many of the workplace stresses many of us will recognise, almost a quarter (24 per cent) have never taken a holiday away from their caring responsibilities. This figure rises to 31 percent among those who have been carers for more than 10 years. Despite the previous government’s commitment to provide funding for respite breaks, their continued failure to ring fence the funds they have allocated for this purpose has meant that in many areas the funds are not reaching carers, so there is still work to be done.
“The Saga Respite for Carers Trust is doing what government should do – provide respite breaks for long-term unpaid carers. Nominations and stories sent to the Saga Respite for Carers Trust paints a very stark picture of the lives of carers, one that shows that many are reaching the end of their tether, their own health affected by the constant stress and demands of looking after a chronically ill or disabled loved one,”
Nominations can be made on line at saga.co.uk/health/carers. The deadline for nominations to the trust is 31st August 2013. Terms apply.
Alternatively nomination forms can be obtained by writing to Saga Respite for Carers Trust, The Saga Building, Enbrook Park, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3SE.
Research by Saga Populus
There are in the region of 6 million Carers in the UK, split regionally as follows:
East of England 520,209
East Midlands 435,741
North East 276,593
North West 724,802
Northern Ireland 185,066
South East 737,751
South West 495,442
West Midlands 558,421
Yorkshire & The Humber 518,211