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Carers Week: 60% of ‘hidden carers’ are struggling with their mental health

Dr Jackie Gray, public health doctor, retired GP and founder of The Carents Room, has expressed her concerns for the welfare of unpaid carers after 60% recorded they were struggling with their mental health.

As Carers Week 2024 has kicked off in the UK, Dr Gray only felt it was right to raise concerns about the mental health of unpaid carers – particularly those looking after their loved ones. New research, which was published by The Carents Room – an online advice hub for adults who are looking after their elderly parents – revealed that becoming a carer for a relative had negative effects on an individual’s wellbeing.

Man in Black Blazer Sitting on Chair

Following this, The Carents Room have issued a warning about the impact increasing numbers of ‘hidden carers’ could have on the country’s healthcare system – an area that is already struggling. According to statistics from The Kings Fund, the NHS sector with the highest vacancy rate is mental health, which is currently sat at around 11.7%.

‘More must be done to help the largest group of carers in the UK, many of whom receive little or no support and can at times be very poor,’ Dr Gray explained. ‘Their contribution to society really does take the strain off the NHS and social care system, however, our new research has identified a worrying trend of increased stress faced by carents.’

Dr Gray said: ‘And just to be clear, this problem is not the fault of the ageing family member. If there is sufficient support, and a safety net is available for people feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of their situation as a carent, it can be avoided.

‘People tell me all the time that they find it difficult to find support and information and can often feel that they are being pushed from pillar to post trying to find what they need. This isn’t always about health-related matters, navigating appointments, it’s about emotional support and very practical tips and solutions to safety concerns when elderly parents are living alone.

‘I am concerned that the needs of the ‘carenting’ generation are often neglected, and this is very much overlooked in our society.’

The Carents Room, which was founded in 2020 to help families struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic, partnered with Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, so they could access funds to help support carers in vulnerable situations.

Eileen Brown, customer experience director at Northern Gas Networks, added: ‘By partnering with The Carents Room, we are ‘helping the helpers’ who give their time and energy to look after others. The team at The Carents Room are doing a fantastic job of supporting families and individuals to look after loved ones, friends, and neighbours.

‘We are particularly grateful to the team for the work they do to promote the Priority Services Register, helping us to look after customers who need a little extra help.’

Phil Burrows, Cadent’s head of customer vulnerability, said: ‘There is already so much complex health and financial information for Carents to navigate that often, the practicalities of keeping people safe in their home is not front of mind. Therefore, by partnering with The Carents Room, we aim to promote practical safety awareness to help ease some of the worry. For example, access to our free locking cooker valves, or new EasyAssist gas emergency control valve, means that in case of a gas emergency or a smell of gas, people have rapid access – simply pressing a button – to these products, ensuring that a family member can quickly take action to keep their loved one safe.’

Image: cottonbro studio

More on Care Week:

Report launched to mark the beginning of Carers Week 2024

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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