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‘I am a shadow of what I was before lockdown’: unpaid carers feel trapped and are at risk of burnout

Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

Scope community team

‘I am a shadow of what I was before lockdown’: unpaid carers feel trapped and are at risk of burnout

As the nation shut its doors on coronavirus back in March, unpaid carers up and down the country had no choice but to take on many hours of additional care for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives, as crucial care and support services closed around them.
In our survey of near 6,000 unpaid carers, three quarters (74 per cent) said they are exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during the pandemic. Two thirds (64 per cent) told Carers UK they hadn’t been able to take any breaks whatsoever in the last six months.
The majority have only known worry and exhaustion – and see no end in sight.
And with tighter local restrictions coming in thick and fast, carers are especially anxious, with two thirds (67 per cent) telling us they are worried about how they will cope through further lockdowns or local restrictions.
One carer said: “It has been the hardest six months of my life and I am dreading another lockdown.” Another: “I am a shadow of what I was before going into lockdown. I am lonely, fed up and depressed, yet I can’t show these traits and must carry on my caring duties, no matter what.”
Carers feel trapped and are at high risk of burning out.
This is not just about ensuring that carers don’t break down over the winter. Carers deserve a new deal that recognises everything they are contributing through this pandemic and builds in the support they need over the medium and longer term: recognition of all the love and care they are providing, quality care services to support them to take a break or go to work, and financial security. Nobody should face financial hardship as a result of their caring role.
The baseline of need has now changed, and so the Government’s long-promised plan for social care reform is an urgent necessity. The Government must now ‘level up’ the lives of unpaid carers, who have been disproportionately affected by this crisis. There must be specific measures for unpaid carers in the heart of that plan.


Have you felt more exhausted and burnt out during lockdown? Are you worried about possible further lockdown restrictions? What measures would you put in place to support unpaid carers?

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Replies

  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 357 Pioneering
    edited October 2020
    I totally agree with all this;  CA should be more, and actually another thing that would significantly help would be far better access to testing, for asymptomatic as well as symptomatic people.  This would give us a little bit more confidence to bring help into our homes etc (if that is an option)  The situation is a farce at the moment, with official care settings having (at least in theory) access to testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic staff, whereas directly employed support coming into a private home cannot access this without being rather creative with answers to the online questions (even when your health authority is the funder and they have told you that you can!)
  • CressCress Member Posts: 498 Pioneering
    I find it makes me angry when the excuse for not raising carers allowance is that you can also work so many hours a week...for many people the caring is 24/7...no free weekends, no bank holidays, no going out for a meal in the evening should you wish...
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

    Scope community team

    Interesting point about the testing @forgoodnesssake! I can imagine that's very frustrating. Do you know why that's the case? 
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  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

    Scope community team

    Good point @Cress. Being an 'informal' carer is often a full-time job in itself. Do you think more respite provision for carers would help too? 
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  • CressCress Member Posts: 498 Pioneering
    Definitely @Tori_Scope
    I also worry about children being carers for parents or siblings...its hard enough as an adult!
    But to have such responsibility on you g shoulders.
    I don't think anywhere near enough is done for them...
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 357 Pioneering
    edited October 2020
    Care settings all have a Unique Organisation Number (UON) which they need to use when requesting pre-emptive testing (asymptomatic) for care staff/keyworkers and they can do this either using the dedicated online portal or the dedicated 119 option.  I have been informed by my CCG that as my son is in receipt of NHS continuing care funding, he is technically a "patient" and our home is therefore a "care setting".  However, we are not an official care setting and so of course do not have this UON so we cannot use the care setting route, either on the phone or online! 
    We cannot easily get people tested before they come to work/stay in our home using the regular 119 option either (even though that is what my CCG told me to use) because they categorically can only arrange a test for someone with symptoms.  I explained our situation and was put on hold for ages while a helpful but somewhat apologetic customer service person checked with a manager.
    If the support worker/keyworker worked for an agency then it is likely that there wouls be some sort of testing regime in place, however we, in common with many others, directly employ support staff and so we just fall through the gaps in the system, yet again.
    In the end I did manage it using the online system by stating that the person had been asked to be tested (it doesn't actually specify who has asked!) and that seemed to work but it took me ages to get there and seemed a very convoluted route (I had already ticked that they were a keyworker)  It needs to be much more straighforward than that and it needs to be possible on the phone.
    - this was for only the second episode of outside support that we have had in 7 months...the first being for 10 days in July.
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

    Scope community team

    Thank you for explaining. That is indeed a convoluted route to have to take @forgoodnesssake :disappointed: I'm glad you managed to find a solution at least, but it should be much simpler, and the gaps need to be filled. 
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  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,033

    Scope community team

    Yes, it must be very difficult @Cress. There are often support groups and the like for young carers, but more support is definitely needed. 
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