Yorkshire carers ‘neglecting own needs’ to help others

One in seven Yorkshire carers neglect their own needs.
One in seven Yorkshire carers neglect their own needs.

ONE in seven carers in Yorkshire neglect their own needs due to the caring duties, and less than a third have used support from carers groups, new research has shown.

Carers’ organisations in the region said more needs to be done to identify carers to ensure they are getting the help they need, following the release of survey results from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

It spoke to more than 6,200 carers in Yorkshire and found that less than 40 per cent were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with the support or services they had received from social services in the last 12 months.

The survey also provided insight into the wellbeing of carers in the region, with just 22 per cent saying they were able to spend their time as they wanted, doing things they valued or enjoyed.

Thinking about how much time they have to look after themselves, in terms of getting enough sleep or eating well, 26 per cent said that sometimes they couldn’t look after themselves well enough; and 14 per cent said they felt like they were neglecting themselves.

Just over 15 per cent said they felt they had no encouragement or support, and 11 per cent said they had no control over their daily life.

Only 32 per cent said they always felt involved or consulted in discussions about the support or services provided to the person they care for.

The major survey, which covered carers known to local authorities, also revealed more about a typical carer in the region: 60 per cent described themselves as retired; 25 per cent said they had a long-standing illness and 19 per cent said they had a physical impairment or disability; and 36 per cent spent 100 hours or more a week looking after the person they cared for.

Carers’ Resource offers a range of support to carers across Bradford, Airedale, Harrogate, Ripon and Craven, including help accessing benefits, emergency planning advice and emotional support.

Head of business at the charity, Anna Jackson, said: “A lot of carers are neglecting their own health as they are consumed with the health of the person they are caring for - but they need to take care of themselves first.

“If a carer falls ill or goes into hospital, it can be a double whammy, affecting the health of the person they care for.

“Some carers will say they are not at the stage where they need extra support but we’re here as a preventative measure, so when they do need it, we’re here.

“We have a huge team of volunteers who will put a call in once a week, just to check everything is ok.”

Simone Cortes, care manager at Carers Trust Mid Yorkshire, which offers carers across Wakefield, Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees respite time, said the results of survey were “worrying”.

She said that many carers who might be eligible for help do not access it as they do not see themselves as carers.

“It can often happen, especially with the older generation,” Mrs Cortes said.

“They get married, and it’s their job to look after their wife or husband. People can be reluctant to access support.

“Giving people the chance to have a bit of time out, to recharge their brain and their batteries, makes a huge difference.”

HSCIC statistician Katharine Robbins said the survey “helps lift the lid on the lives of the many thousands of people who care for another adult as part of their everyday life.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said it wants to do all it can to support the “incredible job” carers do.

It is developing a new Carers Strategy for the next five years.