Unpaid care has its natural challenges, coupled with a pandemic, these challenges become more severe. Particularly when an estimated 50% of full -time carers and 70% of part-time carers are also in employment.
According to the King's Fund, More than a fifth of carers, who are living with the ones they are caring for, provide care for 100 or more hours a week. The demand for such care has subsequently risen since the pandemic hit.
The result of this under lockdown? Increased anxiety and depression.
A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham, Swansea, Warwick and Kent analysed over 200 online surveys during the strict lockdown period.
These surveys were completed by carers of adults with intellectual disability; carers of children with intellectual disability; and a comparison group of carers for children without intellectual disability
The key findings were as follows:
- 43% of carers of children with intellectual disability reported moderate to severe anxiety compared to 8% of parents to children without intellectual disability.
- 45% of carers of children with intellectual disability reported moderate to severe levels of depression compared to 11% of parents to children without.
- Major depression was detected in 31% of carers of children with intellectual disability, but it was only 3% for parents to children without intellectual disability.
When we consider that roughly 80% of all care is provided by informal carers in Europe, these statistics are particularly concerning.
Professor Paul Willner of Swansea University, head of the survey, commented: "We should acknowledge the essential role played by informal carers and take steps to ensure they are appropriately and proactively supported.
"There are significant costs for the carers themselves and for society more generally if mental ill health robs them of their ability to continue providing care for their loved ones."
Looking after someone can be emotionally draining. At times, it can leave a carer feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed - or even feeling angry and resentful.
This is perfectly natural, but it's not healthy for the carer or the person being looked after.
Although not always known to carers, there is support available that will enable them to take a break. This can be in the form of emotional support as well as practical and financial support. These organisations include Carers First, Action for Family Carers, The Samaritans and or the Carers Trust.
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