Overview and key messages
All of us will have our lives touched by caring at some point: 3 in 5 of us will be carers and many of us will also need care in our lifetime (George, 2001). Carers are the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings, spouses, friends and neighbours who provide unpaid care, caring at home, picking up prescriptions, changing dressings, providing much needed emotional support and much more, and often neglecting their own health and wellbeing needs. Carers are vital to those they care for and to the foundation of the health and social care system.
- Around 1 in 8 people in West Wales, many of them young people, are providing unpaid care with a significant proportion providing between 20 to 50+ hours of unpaid care per week.
- The provision of unpaid care is becoming increasingly common as the population ages, with an expectation that the demand for care provided by spouses and adult children will more than double over the next thirty years (See for example Pickard, 2008).
- Based on a national calculation conducted by carers UK and Sheffield University in 2015 (Buckner and Yeandle, 2015), the cost of replacing unpaid care in West Wales, can be estimated at £924m. This exceeds the NHS annual budget for the region which is almost £727m (Hywel Dda University Health Board 2016a).