Social services and the NHS rely on carers' willingness and ability to provide care. A report carried out by the University of Leeds and published in 2007 revealed that the value of unpaid carers support that family based carers provide in the UK has now reached £87 billion a year, more than the annual total spend on the NHS, which stood at £82 billion in the same year.
This staggering figure means that the average carer is saving the nation over £15,000 a year and shows that if only a small number were to give up caring, perhaps through ill health or lack of support, the economic impact on the nation could be disastrous.
In reality many family based carers remain isolated and unsupported, unable to take up paid work or have a normal social life. Those caring for 50 hours a week or more are twice as likely to be in poor health, with a lack of adequate breaks being cited as a major factor. A family based carer not receiving a break is far more likely to suffer from physical or mental health problems with many forced to ignore their own health because of a lack of respite care and the absence of emergency planning.
Family based carers often don't recognise themselves as carers and need information and support to be able to take that important step to ask for help. Some carers feel guilty if they ask for support, but accepting help is not only sensible but often essential to prevent a breakdown in their own health and wellbeing.
HOW CROSSROADS CAN HELP FAMILY BASED CARERS
Do you want time to go shopping without having to rush, meet a friend for coffee or a glass of wine, play a round of golf or go for a swim, maybe go to that evening class you've always wanted to attend?