The needs assessment and engagement exercise elicited a number of key messages with regard to the issues carers are facing and the support that they require to enable them to balance their caring roles and maintain their desired quality of life.
Prevalence and distribution
The 2011 Census provides a valuable update on the picture of unpaid care provision in Warwickshire. The Census indicates that Warwickshire has 59,240 people or 11% of the population providing some form of unpaid care each week in 2011.
An estimated 108,000 patients registered with a Warwickshire GP had some form of caring responsibility in 2013/14. This represents a significant difference when compared with the 2011 Census, with GP practices effectively identifying nearly twice as many carers in Warwickshire than the 2011 Census. This represents an estimated 48,700 more carers registered with a caring responsibility with a Warwickshire GP.
Although there will be significant duplication across these different data sources, in summary Warwickshire identifies:
- 59,240 carers in Warwickshire or 11% of the resident population (2011 Census) of which:
- 41,315 are aged 25-64 years
- 14,239 are aged 65 years and over
- 108,000 carers in Warwickshire registered with a GP as having some form of caring responsibility or 19.3% of the registered GP population in Warwickshire (GP registers)
- 4,930 carers in receipt of Carers Allowance as at February 2015.
Who’s caring for who in Warwickshire, it is estimated that:
- 30,000 Warwickshire carers care for someone aged over 75 years
- 4,700 Warwickshire carers care for someone under the age of 16 years
- Nearly 20,000 carers in Warwickshire are caring for their parent and just under 8,000 are caring for their child
- 34,000 carers in Warwickshire are caring for someone with a physical disability
- Over 6,500 carers in Warwickshire caring for someone with a learning disability
- Just under 6,000 carers in Warwickshire are caring for someone with dementia
- Over 7,700 carers in Warwickshire care for someone with a mental health disorder
- Just under 2,500 people in Warwickshire care for someone with a terminal illness.
The impact of caring on health and wellbeing
Caring can be very rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be emotionally and physically draining without recognition and with little practical and/or emotional support. Research shows that carers can often experience diminished quality of life and poorer health outcomes in terms of their physical and mental health as well as their emotional wellbeing.
There is a uniform pattern of deteriorating general health with rising levels of unpaid care provision. There is a clear relationship between poor health and caring that increases with the duration and intensity of the caring role. Those caring for 50 hours or more per week are at far greater risk of poor health than those caring for fewer hours. Just over 12% of carers in Warwickshire who provide 50 or more hours of care a week state that their health is either ‘bad or very bad’ compared to 4.6% among those who provide no care and 4.0% of other carers. This additional health risk attached to those who provide 50 hours or more care when compared with both non-carers and those who care for less than 50 hours is evident among all age groups in both Warwickshire and England.
There is national evidence to suggest that a significant number of hospital admissions are due to problems associated with the carer rather than the person admitted. One study found that problems associated with the carer contributed to readmission in 62% of cases. A national study tracking a sample of people over 75 years old who had entered the health and social care system, found that 20% of those needing care were admitted to hospital because of the breakdown of a single carer on whom the person was mainly dependent.
The carer’s needs assessment used GIS maps to reveal variations between local carer populations and local needs in terms of the type and number of hours of carer they are providing. This variation increases when you consider the proportion of the population that care for 50 or more hours per week.
Much of this ill health is avoidable or can be minimised. Supporting carers to remain physically and mentally well is therefore a key part of the health and social care agenda.
In order to maximise reach and accessibility, and harness local community capacity we can no longer have a county wide solution. We need a support offer that is tailored to local needs and local assets, and is integrated within and works in partnership with the local health and social care system.