Caring for a family member, friend, or neighbour can be challenging and often comes at significant personal cost. Without sufficient support or meaningful breaks it can take its toll on carers’ emotional and physical health, their ability to work and also have a knock-on effect on their long-term finances.
For carers a break is time off from caring and a chance to do things they would like to do, but can’t do while they are caring – everyday things such as catching up with friends, going for a walk, or simply catching up on sleep. It could be for 30 minutes, an afternoon, or a week. A break could be provided by accessing care services such as replacement care, sitting services, a day service, or through support from family and friends providing either respite or essential care.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on carers’ ability to access breaks. Not only are the majority of carers (81%) providing more care than before the pandemic1 , while their responsibility has grown the support they used to rely on has reduced.
Many carers have been on call all day, every day in the past year; on duty, never getting a night’s sleep, and with no time to themselves or proper time with family or close friends.
Unsurprisingly, many carers are now exhausted and worried about how they will continue to care without increased support.
This research shows the impact of reduced support from both services and family and friends has had on carers’ health and wellbeing. It demonstrates that without the right interventions there could be more carer breakdown and why the UK Government should increase funding for carers’ breaks, so all carers providing significant hours of care have access to a meaningful break.