New figures released for Carers Week (8th – 14th June 2020) show an estimated 392,000 people in Scotland have become unpaid carers a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is on top of the 729,000 unpaid carers in Scotland who were already caring before the outbreak, bringing the total to 1.1 million.
Approximately 239,000 women(61%) and 153,000 men (39%) have started caring for relatives who are older, disabled or living with a physical or mental illness.
Typically, they will have been supporting loved ones from afar, helping with food shopping, collecting medicine, managing finances and providing reassurance and emotional support during the pandemic.
Some will have taken on intense caring roles, helping with tasks such as personal care, moving around the home, administering medication and preparing meals.
Over 227,000 (58%) Scots who have started caring since the outbreak are also juggling paid work alongside their caring responsibilities, highlighting the need for working carers to be supported as they return to offices and work sites.
The six charities supporting Carers Week – Carers Scotland, Age UK, Carers Trust Scotland, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness – are calling on the Government to recognise and raise awareness of the role unpaid carers are playing during the pandemic and ensure they are supported through it, and beyond.
Both unpaid carers (74%) and adults without caring responsibilities (76%) said managing the stress and responsibility of being an unpaid carer was/ would be the top challenge when caring. Scotland’s families are under a huge amount of pressure managing their caring roles and are worried about how they will cope in the weeks and months ahead.
Simon Hodgson, Director of Carers Scotland, said:
“Recognising the contribution of unpaid carers to our society and properly supporting them has never been more important than during this pandemic.
“Unpaid carers should not be taken for granted by the Scottish and UK Governments in this crisis.
“They must ensure that carers physical and mental health is looked after as well as introducing measures to protect financial wellbeing, career and education.
“It is imperative that, moving out of the pandemic, the Scottish Government ensures that care services are reinstated as quickly as is safely possible to reduce the pressure that so many carers are experiencing.
“They must also work with carers to rebuild and renew our care system so that carers are supported and families have improved and better access to the services and support they need to live better lives.”
The six Carers Week charities are calling on Government to urgently deliver a plan for social care reform and set out long term investment in care and support services. This would give unpaid carers the opportunity to take breaks from their caring role, and stay in paid work if they want to.
The headline supporter of Carers Week 2020 is British Gas, who will be hosting a virtual Care for a Cuppa session with its employees with caring responsibilities, and Nutricia also supporting.
Twitter: @CarersWeek #carersweek