Belfast Telegraph

Carers who save the system £4.6bn are undervalued: Survey

By Adrian Rutherford

Unpaid care in Northern Ireland is estimated to be worth £4.6billion a year.

More than 220,000 people here are providing care for an older, disabled or seriously ill loved one.

The number of unpaid carers is rising faster than the general population, a survey found. The findings are published today for the start of Carers Week.

They show 77% of people in Northern Ireland do not feel that carers are sufficiently valued.

Each day, 6,000 people across the UK take on a caring role, but the poll showed many people are unaware how likely it is that they would take on a caring role and would be unprepared if they did become a carer.

One in five people aged 50 to 64 are carers. Yet two-fifths of those in Northern Ireland who are not currently carers (39%) thought it unlikely they would ever become a carer.

Asked their top three concerns, affordability of care and the impact on their finances is top (46%) for those who have never had a caring experience.

Coping with the stress of caring (43%) is the second biggest issue, while 32% would worry they didn't have the skills or experience to become a carer.

More than a quarter (26%) would worry about the impact of caring on their physical health.

The online YouGov poll was conducted on behalf of eight charities who are calling on the new UK government, the Northern Ireland Assembly and society to do more to recognise the important contribution that unpaid carers make, and to support them to care.

Clare-Anne Magee from Carers NI said: "It is deeply concerning that three-quarters of respondents feel carers are undervalued by society for their contribution and this figure rises further for those who have caring experience themselves."

She added: "We urge our Health and Social Care Board, our Trusts, our Assembly and the new UK government to do more to value, recognise and support the contribution made by Northern Ireland's 220,000 unpaid carers."

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