Did you know that unpaid carers save health and social care around £120bn every year? With that said, they are still given very little in return, and have to comply with certain conditions to be eligible for a very unhelpful amount of money from the government.
The number of unpaid carers is on the rise, with a similar increase in the amount of child and teenage carers. Studies have proven that unpaid carers suffer from a deterioration in mental and physical health, isolation from the community in which they live, and a negative impact caused by the amount or hours and stress that goes into caring, upon work and finances. It is safe to say, that many carers believe their contribution goes unrecognised.
Lesley Gross, the chairman of Plymouth Carers Forum, stated that “successive governments keep carers in poverty because they do not even give them minimum wage.” Carers also receive pittance in carers allowance if they are eligible to claim for it. Sue Holt, carer for her husband with Alzheimers, is over 60 and therefore receives her pension. This means she is unable to claim £60 a week for carers allowance.
She has to pay direct payments for a professional carer to visit, and worries that cutbacks may decrease the 15 hours per week she visits. Sue also stated that without those 15 hours of spare time, she would not be able to cope. For the remainder of the week, Mrs Holt looks after her husband around the clock, and stated she can not leave her husband on his own at any time.
It has been well documented that carers put their own well-being on the back-burner to make sure the person they are looking after receives the care they need. Jo Hart looks after her son who suffers with mental health as a result of domestic violence. She said it is impossible to put yourself first, because “if you love someone you’ll care for them regardless of the problems, but people don’t see the extent of it all; the hitting, the screaming and shouting.”
Although unpaid caring is not classed as being in employment, should carers be entitled to claim for compensation due to stress caused by work? After all, caring for someone around the clock is extremely hard work, and their jobs mirror the duties of a professional carer. Normally to make a claim, the victim has to have suffered psychological problems as a result of work. Surely someone who is suffering physical and mental problems due to caring for someone, should be able to claim against healthcare for not providing them with the support they need, and should be entitled to receiving? What do you think?