Annex 15: Informal care (see paragraphs
35 and 36 of the report)|
256. Publicly funded care has never been able
to meet all the needs of the minority of older people who are
frail, vulnerable, ill or isolated. The bulk of care is and has
always been provided within families, with twice as many unpaid
carers in the UKnearly 6.4 millionas there are paid
staff in the health and social care systems combined.
As our society ages and these needs increase, yet more informal
care from family and friends will be required. The number of disabled
older people receiving informal care in England will need approximately
to double over the next 20 years if supply is to keep pace with
UK told us that it has been estimated that nearly 3.5 million
additional carers will be needed in the UK by 2037.
257. Demands on carers are already high. Steve
McIntosh told us that the number of carers is rising rapidly,
coupled with an increase in the intensity of the caring that they
are providing: in the last decade the proportion of carers caring
for over 50 hours a week has doubled.
Elderly parents may only have one child to care for them, and
that child may no longer live nearby.
Currently one in seven employees combine work with caring responsibilities,
and one in four carers has given up work to care, at an annual
cost to the economy of £5.3 billion.
Pressure is also increasing on older carers. More men in their
70s and 80s are now looking after disabled wives, and Professor
Rees told us that the age group of 55-69 year-olds, "the
kind of age group that is going to be looking after their parents
aged 80, 90 or 95", is projected to see very low growth,
"while that of the people who need the care will grow very
258. The support provided to older people by
informal carers is massively valuable to UK society, as well as
to the economy. One valuation, from Carers UK, is that their contribution
across the UK is worth £119 billion a year, more than the
cost of the NHS.
Informal carers deserve our society's support for the work that
they do, and such support will improve older people's wellbeing
and carers' wellbeing, as well as result in savings in health
and social care spending. Mike Farrar told us that "the most
strategic use of the resources available to help care for older
people" would involve "spending not a lot of money but
spending it very effectively supporting partners and carers to
have a higher level of skill". He concluded that "some
of that money should be spent by the state in helping them to
be able to care for their loved ones maybe six months longer than
otherwise", allowing the older person to stay in their own
home for longer, and saving six months of hospital or care home
Knapp highlighted carer support and looking after the health and
wellbeing of carers as one of the areas of intervention for which
there is the strongest evidential case.
The Committee calls for employers to make it easier for employees
to provide informal care, and for the Government to promote how
crucial this will be as demand rises. We welcome the Government's
recent focus on supporting carers in the draft Care and Support
Bill, and urge them to continue to actively address how informal
carers can best be supported and trained, including by care professionals.
259. As we have explored above and in Annex 3,
the contribution being made to our society by older people is
already vast, but our increasing lifespan offers a fantastic opportunity
for older people to play an even greater role in public life,
and we must not miss it.
260. We recognise the very valuable work already
done by a number of charities such as Age UK, WRVS, Alzheimer's
Society and Carers UK, to support older people. Voluntary and
community engagement can support people to stay connected to their
communities, reducing social isolation and loneliness.
Professor Goldblatt argued for the benefits of the "young
elderly" supporting the "older elderly", forming
a mutually beneficial network that reduces isolation as people
move through older age.
Loneliness and isolation have an important impact on quality of
life, and a very harmful effect on physical and mental wellbeingwe
heard from Shaun Gallagher, Acting DG for Social Care, Local Government
and Care Partnerships, Department of Health, that together they
were "one of the biggest risk factors for people needing
care and support".
Norman Lamb MP agreed that "Just a bit of companionship keeping
the mind active can do an enormous amount to maintain independence
and happiness, which is quite an important concept and can reduce
the cost to the system".
261. Mr Lamb stressed the need to recognise that
"People in retirement so often want to give, want to help,
want to give back, but often do not know how to". It is also
important to ensure that risk-aversion does not get in the way
of volunteering, as Martin Green argued.
Mr Lamb was enthusiastic that "We can unleash the power of
people in their communities", especially to combat isolation.
The Committee recommends that central and local government
should work together with the third sector to increase volunteering
especially by older people to support other older people. The
Government promoted the taking up of over a million youth volunteering
opportunities through the 'v' programme.
444 Carers UK. Back
Central Government (DoH, DWP, DCLG), written evidence. Back
Carers UK. Back
Q 277 Back
Q 96 (Professor Harper). Back
Carers UK; Age UK. Back
Q 96 (Professor Rees). Back
Carers UK, Valuing Carers 2011, L. Buckner and S. Yeandle. Back
Q 307 Back
Q 328 Back
National Housing Federation; Age UK; Q 100 (Professor Harper). Back
Q 63 (Shaun Gallagher); Q 501 (Len Street, University of the Third
Age (U3A)). Back
Q 543 Back
Q 393; Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust supplementary written evidence;
Q 502 (Dr Mitchell); Cambridge Past, Present and Future; Age UK;
Older People's Commissioner for Wales; Q 62. Back
Q 682; the Government's Campaign to End Loneliness was described
in the Central Government (DoH and DWP), further supplementary
written evidence. Back
Q 414 Back
Q 682 Back