Two thirds of carers feel burnt out and need more respite support, says charity

Family carers spend an average of 42 hours a week looking after loved ones and almost two thirds feel exhausted or burnt out, according to new research.

National disability charity Sense is calling for greater respite support for families as it warned many are being “denied the opportunity to rest and recuperate, reconnect with family and friends, or take part in other activities”.

The charity’s research found that around a third of carers spend more than 48 hours a week providing care, and 17% spend more than three full days doing so.

Some 65% described themselves as exhausted and/or burnt out as they deliver almost round-the-clock care without a break, Sense said.

Other findings from their survey, carried out last month by Censuswide of 1,000 family carers of a disabled person aged 18 or over, suggested that more than a third (34%) said they do not receive any support that allows them to take a meaningful break.

Almost one in five (19%) said they were unable to remember the last time they could take a break, and 44% said they had not had a break in at least the past two months.

Just 6% of carers said they had had a break in the past week, the research showed.

Those surveyed said they most commonly use the time to catch up on household tasks, such as cleaning, or to sleep or spend time with other family members or friends, while more than a third (35%) said they use the time to do paid work.

The biggest obstacle preventing access to respite services is affordability, cited by a third of carers surveyed.

Others said there is a lack of clear information available on what services and support are available in their local area, noted long waiting lists to access support, and more than a fifth said services and support available do not meet the needs of the person they care for.

The charity, which helps people with complex disabilities, urged more funding to support carers.

Richard Kramer, chief executive of Sense, said: “Caring for someone with complex disabilities is often demanding, non-stop work, and takes its toll physically and mentally.

“Yet sadly, family carers across the country are missing out on a being able to take a meaningful break from these responsibilities – denied the opportunity to rest and recuperate, reconnect with family and friends, or take part in other activities.

“The pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis has made the situation worse, with carers taking on even greater caring responsibilities and receiving less support, with their health and wellbeing suffering as a result. Many are simply burnt out.

“We need to show that we value these incredible individuals in our communities. Local and national government must commit long-term resource and funding to support families.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’ve earmarked £327 million through our Better Care Fund this year to support local authorities with health and care services, including providing carers with advice, support and short breaks and respite services.

“We continue to provide financial support to unpaid carers through the carer’s allowance, and we are finalising plans for how we deliver up to an additional £25 million in to support carers.”

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