Half of carers known to social services care for over 50 hours a week but most lack breaks

Three-quarters say the person they care for has not received a service allowing them to take a break in the previous 12 months, finds official research

Half of carers known to social services are providing over 50 hours a week of care but most are not being supported to take breaks, finds official research published today.

The survey of 57,680 carers, whose results were published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), found that 35% were providing over 100 hours a week of care and a further 17% were providing 50-99 hours a week. Two-thirds were providing personal care and 20% had a disability themselves.

However, just 23% said that the person they cared for had received a service enabling them to have a break during the day in the past 12 months, whereas just 16% said their loved-one had had a service enabling them to take a break in an emergency. Only 5% said they had received any training in carrying out their role in the previous 12 months.

All the carers had had their needs assessed, separately or jointly with the person they care for, in the previous 12 months and half had received a service from their council during that time. The survey was carried out from October to November 2012.

Charity’s warning

The results prompted concerns from the Carers Trust, the membership body for carer support organisations.

“If people in touch with social services are not getting much in the way of breaks what does this say about what people who are not in touch with social services are getting,” warned Moira Fraser, director of policy and research at the trust.

She said the results showed that government programmes to increase the availability of carers’ breaks – for which £150m was allocated to the NHS from 2009-11 and £400m from 2011-15 for the purpose – had not worked effectively enough.

With separate HSCIC research showing that the number of carers receiving a service from their local authority fell by 2% from 2011-12 to 2012-13, she added: “The number of service users receiving a service should have gone up, not down.”

The Care Bill will lower the threshold for carers in accessing an assessment from their local authority and, for the first time, introduce an entitlement to support for those with eligible needs. However, Fraser warned that initial proposals had placed the eligibility threshold for support at a high level.

“That means we are going to have a gap with a low threshold for assessment but a relatively high threshold for paid support,” she warned.

Most satisfied with support

Despite the apparent lack of support, 36% said they were extremely or very satisfied with the support they had received from social services in the previous 12 months, while a further 28.5% said they were quite satisfied.

But while 60% said they were looking after themselves, 26% said that sometimes they could not look after themselves adequately and 14% felt they were neglecting themselves. The survey also found that, while 41% felt they had as much social contact as they wanted, 14% felt socially isolated.

Other research published today

The Health and Social Care Information Centre has also released a range of other data on social care activity and performance today:

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.