Carer advocacy that’s changing the perception of carers and caring
I (Maud) love carer advocacy, working with health and age tech, care providers, local authorities, primary healthcare providers and charities. I help enterprises develop new products and services that:
- engage the over 50’s in diverse workforces
- prepare people for, enable and sustain wellbeing in later life
- help older people find purpose by investing their skills and wisdom post ‘retirement’
- support those who care for older family members
- ensure older people have self-determined support, when they need it
- remove the stigma attached to being old or being a carer
- give the army of unpaid carers a voice and support
My carer advocacy journey
I contributed to ‘How to survive the never-ending sandwich years’ article in the Sunday Telegraph, 20 February. Jenny Tucker revealed how more people are caring for elderly relatives while still raising their children – and they are reaching breaking point.
Carer advocacy 2020-21
I spent these two years, like many, working hard (unable to furlough) to maintain income and doubling down on care responsibilities. Not much time for blogs posts, but I kept carers updated with the important stuff on a ‘carers versus covid’ page (now relegated to a post). Early on I was sharing how to make hand sanitiser and masks.
Click on the image on the left for carer advocacy in the ‘who cares wins’ podcast, S2 Ep1 6 November. I also spoke or ‘panelled’ at Carers UK conferences and contributed to awareness-raising pieces for carers on Radio 4 and Radio 5 and articles in national newspapers (Telegraph, Mirror, Express), online (Huff Post) magazines (Closer, Woman’s Own and My Weekly).
I also use my carer advocacy to Influence policy makers, here with Caroline Dineage MP, Minister of State for Social Care 2019. But I’ve also spoken with the Lords, off the record.
The data that energises me
National data (post-Covid)
- Before the pandemic, Carers UK estimated there were an estimated 9.1m unpaid carers in the UK, i.e. between 1 in 6 of us.
- Overnight an estimated additional 4.5m people became unpaid carers in March 2020, taking their estimate to 13.6m. Meaning 1 in 4 UK adults were providing unpaid care to an older, disabled or ill relative at the height of the pandemic. This is more than double the number (6.5m) recorded in the 2011 census. (Carers Week 2020 research).
- These carers have been estimated to save the state roughly £193 billion in one year, now outstripping the annual NHS budget. (Carers UK 2020, ‘Unseen and Undervalued’).
- 65% of carers are worried say they’re worried about their ability to save and plan for the future. 2 in 5 didn’t feel confident about they would be able to manage financially over the next 12 months (Carers UK ‘State of Caring 2021’).
- 74% of carers are exhausted as a result of caring, a similar number had no break over the pandemic (Carers Week 2021 research).
- 3 in 5 of us will likely care for someone at some point in our lives and 70% of women can expect to be carers.
- Multimorbidity (living with more than one chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure) is increasing rapidly. Nearly twice as many older people in England will need 24hr care within 20yrs.
- The number of 65yr olds with dementia and two or more other conditions will more than double by 2035. (Newcastle Uni Institute for Ageing).
- Currently in the UK people can expect to live a fifth of their lives in poor health (approx 16yrs for men and 19 yrs for women, ONS 2017).
Data on working carers (pre and post-Covid)
- In 2019, between 1 in 7 to 1 in 9 carers were estimated to be juggling work and care. Without support, 1 in 6 of these carers was giving up work or reducing their working hours in order to care. That’s 600 people giving up work every day to care for an elder or disabled relative. (Juggling Work and Unpaid Care, Carers UK, 2019)
- At the height of the pandemic, Carers UK estimated that 1 in 4 of all workers was juggling work and unpaid care. And 1 in 3 in the NHS in the NHS. (Carers Week 2020 research)
- Employers are losing talent, skills and experience from their workforce. The cost to the economy in lost earnings is estimated to be £5.3 billion (Age UK, 2012). The cost to the exchequer is almost £1 billion per annum.
- Supporting carers to remain in work brings benefits to carers, their families, employers and the wider economy as a whole, ADASS June 2017 report
Bucks data (pre-Covid)
All from Carers Bucks, 2019 unless otherwise stated.
- There are over 50,000 carers in Bucks (2011 census) and growing. 1 in 4 Bucks residents are likely to be a carer at some point in their life.
- Each year, unpaid carers in Bucks save the NHS over £201m.
- Dept of Health research calculated that £1 invested in an adult carer generates a £10 saving to the local authority social services budget.
- Should just 18 carers decide they can’t cope anymore and help their relative or friend into a residential home, the bill shared by the local authority and the family is typically £0.5m per year.