CARERS Wales has called on Government to reinstate crucial support services as soon as possible and recognise that carers are at breaking point.
Family carers in Wales are going without crucial services, whilst providing many hours of additional care for loved ones with increasing needs, new research by Carers Wales reveals.
This is at a critical point in the Covid-19 pandemic when more restrictions are being put in place, and many expect life to become more difficult over the winter months.
Previous research by the charity in April showed the majority of unpaid carers immediately took on more care for their older, disabled or seriously ill relatives through the lockdown.
Six months later, 80% of unpaid carers in Wales report that they are still providing more care than before the lockdown.
Almost three quarters (68%) are worried about how they will cope if further lockdowns or local restrictions were introduced.
In a survey of 580 unpaid carers in Wales, over a third (38%) said they are providing more care because the needs of the person they look after have increased. Many cited the detrimental impact of the national lockdown on their relatives’ physical and mental health.
A similar proportion of family carers (37%) are providing more care because their local services have been significantly reduced or closed. Covid-19 infection and control restrictions mean most day services are operating at a reduced capacity and some have not opened at all.
Three quarters of carers (76%) said they are exhausted and worn out as a result of caring during the pandemic. 60% told Carers Wales they hadn’t been able to take any breaks whatsoever in the last six months.
Claire Morgan, Director of Carers Wales, said:
“The pandemic has placed enormous pressure on carers in Wales, who are caring round the clock for loved ones with little or no outside support. They are worn out.
Carers are desperately worried about how they will manage over the winter and in the face of further lockdowns and tightening of restrictions.
The Welsh Government must ensure that services for carers and those they care for are reinstated as soon as possible. Local authorities must be flexible and consider alternative ways of meeting carers needs. It must also reinstate as a matter of urgency its commitment to an awareness raising publicity campaign to identify and inform carers of their rights.”
Carers Wales is also calling on the Government to recognise the additional financial hardship carers have faced during the pandemic and set up a specific fund for, to help cover the extra costs that caring will inevitably incur over winter.
The charity wants to see the vital role of unpaid carers in supporting the health and social care system clearly recognised in the rebuilding, and delivery, of health and social care going forward.