More than a million people looking after an elderly relative could be losing out on crucial advice and support, research by Which? Elderly Care has revealed.
Nearly a third of the 3.8 million unpaid carers in England struggle to find the information they need from their local council. There are also large differences between areas.
Around half of unpaid carers in Brent, Hounslow, Sheffield and Lambeth had difficulty finding information and advice.
New hub for unpaid carers
In response to the lack of information available to carers, Which? Elderly Care has launched a free Carers’ hub, which brings together advice pages with local authority information.
The new hub helps carers find the information they need, whether that’s how to arrange a carer’s assessment with their local council, get information on the benefits and financial support that is available or carers’ rights in the workplace.
Improving carers’ quality of life
“I know just how much of a difference the right information, support and advice can make to a carer’s quality of life,” said Daphne Sanderson, who has cared for her husband for many years. “Raising the profile of carers, as well as ensuring they have all the tools they need, is vitally important.”
Read Daphne’s story about how her life was improved after she did the carer’s assessment.
The best and the worst councils
According to a Which? analysis of the most recent data from NHS statistics, collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in 2014/15, unpaid carers had the most difficulty finding information and advice in Brent (where 55% struggled), Hounslow (50%), Sheffield (46%) and Lambeth (46%).
However, there are places where things are better. Only 15% of carers in Halton, 17% in Redbridge and 18% in St Helens struggled to find information and advice.
Making it easier to find information
“It is worrying to see that despite local authorities having information available, many unpaid carers are struggling to find and make use of it,” said Alex Neill from Which? Elderly Care.
“This could be because people don’t identify themselves as being an unpaid carer, or simply because they are short of time. Our Carers’ hub is specifically designed to make the task of getting the necessary advice and information easier.”