Loneliness impacting unpaid carers

Helen Walker, chief executive, Carers UK

Unpaid carers are seven times more likely to be lonely compared with the rest of the public, figures suggest.

Research by Carers UK also found that one in three unpaid carers (35%) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (5%) of the general population due to not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer.

The research showed those worst affected by loneliness are parent carers looking after disabled children under 18 years old, with them being nearly ten times lonelier than the wider public.

Its findings, based on an online survey of 8,096 carers and former carers between March and May, found they are also twice as anxious.

The charity argues that the extent of loneliness and poor wellbeing among carers could be far worse than previously thought. It estimates there are 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, up from 6.3 million estimated in the 2011 census.

As part of Carers Week, charities are calling for unpaid carers to be at the heart of social care reforms and to be better supported financially.

Helen Walker, Carers UK chief executive, said: ‘With as many as one in six adults in the UK now taking on an unpaid caring role it is high time our society recognises and values the crucial support they provide.

‘Many unpaid carers struggle alone without support. If we are to combat the loneliness epidemic facing them it is imperative that everyone – government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually – plays a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.

‘Carers need to feel they are valued, understood and connected to their community.’