Family Carers ‘at Breaking Point’

Families caring for loved ones with profound learning disabilities are reaching breaking point, a report has warned. The charity Mencap said seven out of 10 families had reached or come close to breaking point due to the stress of round-the-clock care. Many are denied access to adequate short-break care by local authorities or hospital trusts, the charity said. One in three families questioned said their access to short breaks had been cut in the last year, while six out of 10 felt the breaks on offer never fully met their needs.

A short break can include a carer staying overnight in the person’s home or a short stay at a respite centre. Seven out of 10 families questioned said they had never been offered a choice of short breaks.

Mencap is calling on the Government to tackle the issue in its comprehensive spending review next year. It wants families with the greatest need to be able to receive the equivalent of 52 nights of respite a year.

Most of that care is provided by local health authorities, but NHS trusts run it in some areas of the country.

Mencap’s chief executive, Jo Williams, said: “We are appalled that three years on from Mencap’s last Breaking Point Survey, families caring for children and adults with a severe or profound learning disability are still not getting the support they need.

“With no legal entitlement to short breaks, these families are falling to the back of the queue when it comes to funding and priority.

“Regular short breaks in a safe, caring environment are vital and can make a huge difference to the quality of life of the whole family.”