The Carers Trust
Hameed Khan is a member of Verita’s Mental Health Advisory Group and discusses the Carers Trust
Do you ever consider the extent to which unpaid carers reduce the costs and burden on health and social care services?
If all unpaid carers decided not to care for their loved ones, would this have a detrimental effect on our NHS and social services budget and the care provided? It’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t.
The Carers Trust offers an abundance of statistics about carers in the UK. There are almost seven million carers in the UK and over the next 30 years, our ageing population means that this number is likely to increase by another 3.4 million. Like myself, there are up to 1.5 million people in the UK who care for someone with a mental health issue. The Carers Trust estimates that the value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £119bn per year.
Unpaid carers are unsung heroes. They make a massive contribution to reducing the burden on NHS and social services, yet they are rarely acknowledged for their hard work and dedication. Moreover, unpaid carers often, and sadly, begin to suffer physical exhaustion, isolation, stress and mental health issues themselves as their own well-being becomes ignored.
There should be more emphasis on ensuring health and social care professionals provide adequate support to unpaid carers. The danger of neglecting this is that the NHS and social services will end up providing care and treatment for two service users: the carer and the cared for. Last year’s Institute of Public Policy Research Report, The Generation Strain, states “without unpaid carers our capacity to care as a nation will be overwhelmed by need.”
It is crucial to ensure unpaid carers are valued, acknowledged, recognised and provided with adequate care and support to look after their loved ones. Carers are an integral part of sustaining an effective health and social care system in the UK.