The proportion of people caring full-time for a loved-one has doubled in the past decade to one fifth of all carers, figures published today have shown.
The provisional results of an NHS Information Centre survey of carers showed the proportion of carers providing more than 50 hours a week of care rose from 10% in 2000-1 to 22% in 2009-10, prompting calls for more support.
The survey, based on interviews with 2,400 carers, found that five million adults aged 16 or over in England – nearly one in eight – act as a carer for a sick, elderly or disabled person. Nearly half provide 20 hours or more of care a week and a third provide 35 hours or more.
A separate survey by the centre found that carers known to councils have more intense caring duties, with nearly half spending over 50 hours a week caring and over a third caring for more than 100 hours a week. This survey was answered by 35,000 carers.
Carers UK chief executive Imelda Redmond said: “We need an urgent rethink of how our society and communities support those who are shouldering these heavy responsibilities. Unless we act to change the way our country supports disabled and older people and those who care, we risk condemning families to ill-health, poverty and isolation.”
Among other results, 8% said they suffered a lot of financial difficulty because of their caring role, while a third said they had suffered to some extent. However 60% said they had suffered no financial difficulties at all.