There can be no doubt of the moral argument for supporting unpaid Carers. Providing support and care that empowers the amazing army of citizens who dedicate vast portions of their lives and energies to care for some of society’s most vulnerable, to continue in their role, goes without question.
Supporting Carers to continue their vital role also makes good financial sense and ensures the stability of the nation’s social care systems. Keep reading to find out more about how we all benefit from supporting Carers.
The Social Costs of Caring
The UK’s army of unpaid Carers contributes so much to our society. Carers carry the majority of the caring load, not doctors, professionals, or the health and social care system. In fact, the contribution that Carers make in terms of their time and resources has been valued at £132 billion, almost enough to fund a second NHS!
But, when this load becomes too heavy, it comes at a high cost to our society, not just to Carers – as Carers health and wellbeing is compromised and the caring situation can break down, with unmanageable impacts on our health and social care system. We simply can’t afford not to care for Carers.
The Scale of Caring
There are approximately 9 million unpaid Carers in the UK at any time, a figure that increased to over 14 million at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the number of Carers in the UK was double that of 2011. And currently, in 2022, at least 1 in 7 UK workers balances their job with an unpaid caring role. As the population continues to grow and age, the majority of us will find ourselves in a caring role at some point in our lives. And for some of us, we may find ourselves in a situation where we are cared for by others. Unpaid caring affects all of us and we all benefit from happy, healthy caregivers. That’s why we’re here for Carers.
The Health and Wellbeing Impact of Caring
As the number of Carers increases and the number of hours dedicated to the caring role grows, Carers are at increased risk of reaching crisis point. 59% of the Carers we support across our partnerships provide over 50 hours of care each week. When caring becomes a full-time role, it’s common for Carers to prioritise the needs of their loved ones over their own, impacting their own health and wellbeing. Without significant emotional, practical, financial and workplace support, Carers would reach breaking point, rupturing families and risking our health and social care system. That’s why we care for Carers.
How we help Carers
Across our many not-for-profit partnerships, we are united in our ambition to positively impact Carer wellbeing by providing preventative support and services that enable Carers to live a fulfilled life alongside their caring role. We offer hundreds of different services and activities designed to welcome and empower Carers from all backgrounds, from support groups to information sessions, wellbeing spas to training courses to get online, from family events to 121 specialist advice.
Measuring our impact
As a funded service, it’s important that we can demonstrate the positive value we provide not only direct to individuals through transformative support and services, but also our economic value to the social care system too.
By providing support that improves Carer wellbeing, we revive and energise Carers to continue caring happily and healthily for longer. And, for many Carers, this helps avoid or reduce the need for additional social care support in the form of funded day or residential care, allowing us to estimate the savings we make to the sector.
In 2021, we calculated that for every £1 invested in Forward Carers, we saved the social care sector £11.67. You can read more about the basis for our methodology and underlying assumptions in the technical note below.
This ‘technical note’ provides background information on how we calculated our return-on-investment statement, ‘for every £1 spend on Forward Carers, £11.67 is saved by the social care sector’. Our methodology is based on ADASS and Carers UK methodology, which you can read about here.
Where we’ve made assumptions about the impact of our work, we have erred on the side of caution, in most cases proposing our impact to be smaller than we reasonably believe it to be, to ensure we don’t make unrealistic claims.
We calculated the total attendees (calendar year 2021) for each of the main support activities delivered by Birmingham Carers Hub (BCH), these are the Carers Emergency Response Service; Universal Support (advice and information); Statutory Carer Assessment and Carer Support Groups.
We then estimated the number of Carers who, without our service, would have required additional intervention via statutory agencies due to care breakdown. Research suggests that without support, 40% of care situations would be at risk of breakdown.
We then identified the form of social care intervention that would likely have taken place in the absence of our service:
- Carers Emergency Response Service: without emergency support, the Economic Case for Local Investment in Carer Support1 estimates that 40% of family care situations would break down completely, with the consequence that the person receiving care would move into a care home.
- Universal Support, Statutory Carer Assessment and Carer Support Groups: without these services, we have chosen to assume a low 10% estimate of care breakdown while further research takes place into modelling this.
This allowed us to predict an extra 168 care home spaces and 818 community support spaces attendees each year would be required.
The Personal Social Services Research Unit2 estimates that a care home space would cost £1241 per person per week and the cost to attend a day centre or similar would be £123 per person per week. This is based on an assumed £49 average price for 3.5 hours per day, attended 2.5 times a week. These costs per week have then been adjusted to find a yearly cost per person and then multiplied by the estimated cost for all predicted spaces required by those avoiding required support following our intervention.
Using this model, we estimate we have helped Birmingham City Council to avoid £14,801,147 in additional adult social care costs that would have been required because of higher instances of care breakdown. This results in a saving of £11.67 for every £1 invested in Forward Carers to deliver Birmingham Carers Hub services.