In my role on the Health and Adult Care Committee, I have been learning all about Wandsworth’s secret army of carers, who work tirelessly around the clock to care for friends and family. Until now, I never realised the full impact of the health inequalities facing carers in Wandsworth and all over the UK.
Studies show a staggering 61% of carers suffer with depression, unable to maintain a life of their own, while on duty around the clock. Due to the demands and pressure of their role, they experience poor physical health including injury and clinical illness as a result of being so run down.
The Wandsworth Carers Strategy has highlighted that 21% of Carers, providing in excess of 50 hours of care per week believe themselves to be in poor health. This is significant when compared to 8% of non-Carers.
A UK-wide survey has shown that 1 in 5 of emergency admissions to hospital could have been prevented in cases where a person was receiving care from a family member. Furthermore, the source of this prevention has been found to be increased support for carers.
Undoubtedly this use of emergency provision has a financial impact and places strain on NHS services that are already stretched beyond capacity, with significant knock on effects.
- 1 in 8 people in the UK, equating to a total of 6.5 million, are unpaid carers. The cost to the British Economy is an astounding £1.3bn in lost taxes and benefits.
- An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work to care for a loved one as services were not flexible enough to accomodate them working and taking on a caring role.
- For those whom have tried desperately to maintain a job in order to fund their family, one third have been forced to give up work or reduce hours because the right services and support was not available for them.
- Last year, 44% of carers have cut back on heating and 45% have cut back on food. They simply could not afford it.
In Tooting Bec and Balham, let us support them in any way we can. If you have a neighbour or a friend that is a carer, pop in for a chat, say hello and remember that the conversation we have with them that day, may be the only one they have.
CC images courtesy of British Red Cross and Social Innovation Camp on Flickr