When is it time to consider formal care for a loved one: Part 1

Who are informal carers?

There are many people caring for partners, children, or friends, from popping in for a coffee and chat to full-on help with personal care, i.e.,  such as washing and dressing. These tasks can be carried out for weeks, months or years without question when the level of support works for both parties. These people carrying out the tasks are often known as ‘informal carers’ and may live in the same household, or be checking in on their loved ones to give the support they feel appropriate at the time. By informal carer, we mean unpaid.
The term ‘carer’ can often be used interchangeably by many people using services. For the purpose of this blog, we refer to the carer as an unpaid worker.
Other key facts about informal carers are detailed by carers.org.uk are as follows:-
  • According to the 2011 census, an estimated 6.5 million informal carers in the UK were providing unpaid care (Census 2011), saving the government approximately £530 million per day and £193 billion per year during the pandemic (Carers UK, Unseen and Undervalued, 2020)
  • A 2022 research report by Carers UK (Carers Week 2022) suggests this has now risen to 10.6 million (Carers UK, Carers Week 2022 research report). Therefore this means that 1 in 5 adults in the UK are currently providing care.
  • An additional 4.3 million people became unpaid carers every year amounting to – 12,000 people a day (Petrillo and Bennett, 2022).
  • More than half of all unpaid carers (58% ) are women (Census 2011).
  • One in seven carers in the UK are juggling work and care (Carers UK, Juggling Work and Care, 2019).
  • Between 2010-2020, people aged 46-65 were the largest age group to become unpaid carers. 41% of people who became unpaid carers were in this age group (Petrillo and Bennett, 2022)

When to turn to formal support

Informal care can go on for days, weeks, months or even years, but when is it time to intervene and ask for more formal support? Formal support is when a paid care workers is introduced so that the informal carer can take a break themselves, or step back completely.
This often occurs when the support the carer can give is no longer sufficient to met the needs of the cared-for person. Examples are as follows:-

  • The carer is unwell themselves
  • The carer may still be working or have other commitments
  • The needs of the cared-for person go beyond the skills of the carer
  • The carer passes away

Homecare.co.uk also offer some guidance on what changes to look for in the cared-for person, you can click here to read.

How to find appropriate support

Some carers may not know where to turn at the point they require help, having no idea of what help or support is out there.  Some carers may not even want formal help for fear of divulging private or financial information, or because they believe they cannot afford it.
However, assessments undertaken by your local Adult Services are free. A referral to their Helpdesk can be undertaken by anyone, not just the informal carer. They will send a social care professional to come and assess the care needs, and whether you will qualify for financial support towards the cost of care. Even if you do not qualify, this assessment can be helpful in pointing you in the right direction as to who to contact for care, and other benefits you may be able to claim.

What is our experience?

When informal carers approach Aster Care for support, they are often quite desperate, unaware of the costs of care, and generally have hit a critical point and so can feel quite stressed.
Adult Services will have given them a list of ‘preferred providers’ (i.e., a selection of providers on their list who are contracted to work with them and meet certain standards), but will not recommend individual providers. Some carers find us through this list, word of mouth, or their own searches on the website where our testimonies can be accessed.
We offer a free, no commitment assessment to discuss our services and whether they will fit with the service user and the informal carers’ needs. If we are unable to help, we will signpost the carer to the Care Quality Commission where inspection reports can be accessed (including ratings), or homecare.co.uk where service users can leave local reviews on their website of their experience of care.
If you require any further information about what we provide, please click on the following link: https://astercareltd.com/long-term-home-care-services/

To find out about how we care for people with dementia,