Social care professionals have been urged to increase assessment levels for carers of cancer patients after a survey found half were receiving no support and a similar proportion were experiencing mental distress.
Just 5% of cancer carers have had a carers’ assessment and 49% are going without any formal or informal support, an Ipsos Mori survey of 386 carers for Macmillan Cancer Support found.
Almost half (46%) said they were suffering from mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety or depression, while 13% experienced physical health problems.
A proportion of those surveyed are likely to be ineligible for carers’ assessments. To qualify for a carers’ assessment, people must be providing “substantial and regular care”. But the Macmillan survey included as carers people providing at least five hours of care a week or those providing one to four hours for whom their caring role impacted on their lives.
However, carer’s assessments are only given on request and the survey also found that 43% of respondents did not identify themselves as carers.
“Our research shows how unsupported cancer carers really are in the UK,” said Macmillan chief executive Ciarán Devane. “Carers want to look after their family or friend with cancer – but it is often at the expense of their own mental or physical health.”
“The statutory sector must increase awareness and uptake of carers’ assessments,” he added. “Both health and social care professionals need to be signposting cancer carers for assessments.”
An estimated 1.1 million people care for a loved-one with cancer, reflecting the fact that people with cancer are living longer and need ongoing support.
Macmillan Cancer Support: Patients’ social care needs ignored