Social workers ‘must do more to support carers’

Social workers need to do more to support carers, according to a survey which revealed that three quarters of carers across the UK are at breaking point.

The poll of more than 2,000 carers, published today to coincide with the start of Carers Week, highlights the pressures of the caring role, which they say are not adequately recognised by GPs and social care professionals, including social workers.

Stress and depression

Complex and lengthy procedures for welfare benefits, healthcare and social services was cited as the most common cause for frustration, with some carers reporting that the strain of caring is causing such extreme levels of stress and depression that they are suffering breakdowns and, in some cases, even attempting suicide.

Lack of recognition

Almost nine out of ten survey respondents said they feel unrecognised by professionals who should be expected to support carers and those they care for.  Without their help, carers are much more likely to go without practical or financial help to which they are entitled and, as a result, their health, wellbeing and finances suffer, claimed the organisers of Carers Week, a partnership of 10 charities that compiled the research.

More than half (54%) said that being overlooked has affected their health and a slightly higher number (55%) say that it has left them worse off financially.

More support needed

Paul Matz, manager of the Carers Week campaign,  said: “All too often carers slip under the radar and they struggle on alone. It is vital that health and social service professionals on the ground recognise the needs of people who are caring for others and ensure they are receiving the support they are entitled to and deserve.”

Responding to the survey, charity Carers UK called for a radical overhaul of the benefits and care system.

Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK said: “It is vital that there is an overhaul of the benefits and care system.  It is a travesty that the people who provide £87 billion worth of care every year, unpaid, are pushed to breaking point by the systems that are supposed to be there to help them.

“We need an urgent improvement in benefits and better investment in care if we are to stop carers being treated so badly by the system.  We must secure change if we are to improve carers’ lives.”

Carer’s Week runs until 14 June.

More information

Carers Week 2009

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