Almost three quarters (74%) of carers say they are exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during the pandemic, according to new report.
The report by the charity Carers UK also found two thirds (64%) of carers had not been able to take any breaks whatsoever in the last six months.
In a survey of nearly 6,000 carers, two in five (40%) said they are providing more care because the needs of the person they look after have increased.
And a third of family carers (38%) said they are providing more care because their local services have been significantly reduced or closed.
The survey also showed that 58% of carers had seen their physical health impacted by caring through the pandemic, while 64% said their mental health has worsened.
‘The majority of carers have only known worry and exhaustion throughout this pandemic,’ said charity chief executive, Helen Walker.
‘They continue to provide extraordinary hours of care, without the usual help from family and friends and with limited or no support from local services.
‘It’s no surprise that carers’ physical and mental health is suffering, badly. I am deeply concerned that so many carers are on the brink and desperately worried about how they will manage during the next wave of the pandemic.
‘Government must prioritise carers in its plans, carry out an urgent review of breaks’ services and ensure that wider social care services have enough funding to manage over winter. We strongly urge local authorities to use the Infection Control Fund to help reinstate crucial day and support services that carers really need.’
The charity has called on the government to ensure that those receiving Carer’s Allowance – the main benefit for people caring 35 hours or more every week – receive an equivalent payment increase to those receiving Universal Credit, £20 a week, to help cover the extra costs that caring will inevitably incur over the winter months.
‘It is not just about ensuring that carers don’t break down over the winter. Carers deserve a New Deal that recognises everything they are contributing through this pandemic and builds in the support they need over the medium and longer term.
‘The government’s social care reform must “level up” the lives of unpaid carers too, who have struggled through this crisis,’ added Ms Walker.
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