Report highlights challenges faced by unpaid carers during pandemic
A new Cardiff University report, funded by Public Health Wales, highlights the additional challenges that unpaid carers have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Report lead author, Dr Dan Burrows, Lecturer in Social Work at the School of Social Sciences (SOCSI) Cardiff University, yesterday said:
“Unpaid carers are the backbone of the health and social care system in Wales and across the United Kingdom.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the responsibilities of unpaid carers have increased considerably. There are more unpaid carers than ever before, and most of those who provided unpaid care before the pandemic are now spending more time on providing care for another person. The carers who took part in our research reflected on the significant impact on to their mental health, highlighting the need for remedial action will be needed for those who are reaching crisis point.”
Co-author of the report Dr Jen Lyttleton-Smith, Lecturer in Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University, added: “Despite the vital contributions they make on a day-to-day basis, unpaid carers we spoke to said they are poorly recognised in public discussions of health and social care and have felt overlooked during the pandemic, in contrast to professional health and social care workers, whose efforts they said had received greater recognition. This sense of injustice was heightened by the extraordinary level of sacrifice many unpaid carers have made on behalf of the person cared for.”
Other key findings in the report include:
- Many carers do not recognise their identity as a carer until they reach a crisis and seek help from health or social care services.
- Some carers reported that the Coronavirus pandemic, and the control measures imposed in response, had prompted them to spend more time relaxing with the person cared-for, which was beneficial for their relationships and had reminded them of the importance of times of shared enjoyment.
- For others, however, the loss of time away from the person cared-for, personal space and activities to enhance their own well-being (e.g. the closure of gyms) had led to increased feelings of tension and frustration that may have a long-term impact on the sustainability of their caring role.
The report “Voices of Carers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Messages for the future of unpaid caring in Wales.” was conducted and compiled by Cardiff University and funded by Public Health Wales.
Dr Richard Kyle, Deputy Head of Research & Evaluation at Public Health Wales, yesterday said:
“Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unpaid carers is essential to help inform how to best support the health and wellbeing or those who care for others. This research provides valuable insights into the experiences of unpaid carers in Wales over the past year. The research found that many of the challenges have been long standing but further exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Finding ways to identify unpaid carers in health and social care services and educational institutions is key to starting the process of providing support. But it is also important that consideration is given to the language used on publicity materials, since not all unpaid carers identify with the term ‘carer’.
“Care planning should involve considering the needs of the carer and person cared-for to spend time together for enjoyment, rather than focusing only on how the needs of the person cared-for are met.
“Short-term therapeutic work may also be useful to support the carer and person cared-for in understanding and managing the transition into a caring relationship.”
This report will help inform support for unpaid carers, and the development of further research on unpaid carers health and wellbeing within the Research & Evaluation Division alongside external partners in Wales.
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