Many unpaid careers feel overwhelmed and are at risk of burning out during the current coronavirus crisis, a leading charity has warned.
A survey by Carers UK found 70% of unpaid carers in the UK are having to provide more care for their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak.
It also revealed a third (35%) of them are providing more care because their local care and support services have been reduced or closed.
Reduced care and support services, and paid care workers self-isolating mean many carers have no choice but to care round the clock for loved ones with complex health conditions and disabilities – without any hope of a break.
More than half (55%) of unpaid carers told the charity they feel overwhelmed managing their caring responsibilities during the outbreak and are worried about burning out in the coming weeks.
And the vast majority (87%) admitted they are worried about what will happen to the people they care for if they have to self-isolate or become ill.
‘Unpaid carers are fighting the same battle as care staff and many of our NHS workers: yet they do it behind closed doors and with far less recognition,’ said Carers UK chief executive, Helen Walker.
‘Unlike our fantastic frontline workers they are unable to clock off from their caring responsibilities. Many are overwhelmed and incredibly anxious about how they will manage in the weeks ahead.
‘Unpaid carers are just as vital in the national effort to keep vulnerable people safe yet many fear that continuing to care around the clock will lead to them burning out,’ she added.
‘Carers tell us they feel ignored and invisible in this epidemic. The government must ensure their physical and emotional well-being is supported at this challenging time and monitor the impact of the reduction in care services on carers.’
The charity is urging ministers to increase the carer’s allowance – the main benefit for people caring unpaid for 35 hours or more each week, just £67.25 a week – to recognise the crucial role they are playing in the country’s fight back against coronavirus.
‘It is simply unacceptable that carer’s allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind when unpaid carers contribute so much and at a significant cost to their own finances. The government should raise it,’ added Ms Walker.
“This crisis needs to be a turning point in how we as a society treat carers. Going forward, government must invest in the care and support families so desperately need.’
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