More investment in local services is essential to help unpaid carers being pushed to breaking point amidst a surge in demand for care services and support, the WLGA has said today.
A recent survey by Carers Wales shows that increasing demand for care and support, as well as rising costs in providing services, is placing growing pressures on carers and families who look after and care for loved ones and can have a detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing.
Across Wales, there are approximately 370,000 unpaid carers who provide support worth an estimated £8.1 billion per year. Many carers though struggle to maintain their own health and wellbeing while caring for others, and can find it difficult to access practical help and support that is needed in supporting them in managing their caring responsibilities, placing them at increasing risk of needing care and support themselves.
Responses to the Carers Wales’ State of Caring survey showed that:
- 75% of carers in Wales have suffered mental ill health such as stress or depression
- 61% reported a decline in their physical health as a result of their caring role
- 46% of carers anticipate their quality of life will get worse in the next 12 months
In addition, over a third of carers (34%) report ‘struggling to make ends meet’, with many carers having to cut back on hobbies, leisure activities and seeing friends and family.
The impact of austerity on council services is recognised by carers, with over a quarter (27%) of carers identifying that they were worried the support they currently receive might be reduced, while almost two thirds (65%) said that they do not know what might happen with the support they currently receive.
Councillor Huw David (Bridgend), WLGA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
“Local government provides more than 700 local services, a significant proportion of which help improve wellbeing and tackle the social determinants of health. This includes housing, employment, welfare, leisure and transport and all these services help support the health and wellbeing of carers. However, over the last eight years, councils’ core budgets have been significantly reduced, by 22%, and this has inevitably impacted on the availability of local services.”
“If carers are not appropriately supported it can lead to increased social isolation and add to pressures on both the carer’s finances and their health and wellbeing. It is clear that we must do more towards tackling the inequalities that are experienced by carers, while supporting the whole population with their health and social care needs.
“There is a clear case here around the need to invest in the early intervention and prevention services that are of benefit to carers. We welcome Welsh Government’s recent announcement that £15m of the £30m provided to Regional Partnership Boards in the draft budget will be targeted towards both carers and those with care and support needs. It is vital that there is increased investment in local council services from this funding to enable them to continue to provide the vital support local services needed - many of which support those providing unpaid care.”
Councillor Susan Elsmore (Cardiff), WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
“The reality is that without carers, the independence and quality of life of many is diminished and the burden on our social services and national health service becomes even greater. Few jobs or roles are more important.
“Councils’ ability to continue to provide the support that is essential to carers’ well-being is being undermined by continued cuts to council budgets which threaten local services that improve people’s lives and their communities, including services vital to supporting carers.”
“By working together with partner organisations including health, Welsh Government and Carers Wales, and most importantly with carers we need to ensure that we make best use of all opportunities and financial resources - which Welsh Government’s recent announcement of £15m contributes towards - for achieving a shared ambition to make sure that carers have the recognition of being respected and valued and the support that they need.”