Imagine with me for a second or two. Imagine a job that saves the government an estimated 87 billion per year. Imagine that the amount of people in the country who do that job every single day is equal to the population of the capital city. Now imagine that it’s the worst paying job in the world and that they’re looked down on as lazy even though many of them work every single hour of every single day with no holidays. You’ve just imagined a carer in the UK.
Large numbers of carers say they have been pushed to extreme levels of stress and depression as a result of caring.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of carers say that they feel that they have reached breaking point.
Over a third (41%) of carers stated that frustration with bureaucracy pushed them to breaking point, often the complex and lengthy procedures for welfare benefits, healthcare and social services. Other factors include a deterioration in the health of the person being cared for, lack of sleep and financial worries.
For most carers, practical support would or did make the difference when they were at breaking point, with just having someone to talk to a close second.
Nearly a third (31%) say that more money would make a difference, hardly surprising given that Carers Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind at just 53.10 per week
A massive 8 out of 10 carers feel that their role is overlooked or ignored by professionals, who include GPs, social workers and hospital staff. Three-quarters of all carers also feel that their role is unrecognised by family members and friends. Almost two-thirds (63%) of carers say that their lives are made much more difficult as a result of being overlooked or ignored.
More than half (54%) say that being overlooked has affected their health and a slightly higher number (55%) say that it has left them worse off financially.
Nobody sees a carer, nobody sees a spy
We’re an invisible band of workers, have you ever asked yourself why
While James Bond struts about the place in a dashing dinner suit
Most carers struggle to recollect the last day that they had oot?
He’s fortified by gadgets supplied by the amazing Q.
We’re lonely and under-funded, always needing an extra penny or two.
We’re always on the go, we rarely get time to relax.
If we were like James Bond, we could escape on big jet packs.
His life is full of glamour, he loves to sip on champers.
Our lives are filled with duty and dirty laundry hampers.
We have no job description, we have no stated hours.
Oh! to be a spy and have some super powers.
To flee our caring duties, to go out and meet a pal.
I’d settle for a cafe – I don’t need Casino Royale.
Though we all love our families and live to show our care
Sometimes it would be nice if someone else was there
To give a little hand, to provide some great respite.
James Bond doesn’t need a befriender to let him out at night.
We’re standing in the shadows, we don’t wear any disguise.
We’re the UK’s real Secret Service, we’re the carers not the spies
~ Kerry Black ~
You may have seen further up the rate of Carer’s Allowance is £53.10 per week. That’s for each carer not the people they’re caring for so a mother of three disabled children is stuck on the same rate. Those that are caring for someone for only the minimum 35 hours a week that it takes to qualify for Carer’s Allowance get approximately 1.32 per hour in a country where the minimum wage is over 5 per hour. However, the rate doesn’t change based on how long is spent caring at all, meaning that the 1.5 million Carers who look after someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are still getting the same 53.10. As there are 168 hours in a week and a vast majority of those people are caring for someone every minute of that, that translates into roughly 31 pence per hour!
I realise that may not mean anything to people in other countries so I’ve translated into a few different currencies for you. Feel free to ask in the comments for your country to be added if I’ve missed it out.
31 british pence is:
- 46 american cents
- just under 4 south african rand
- 61 australian cents
- 2.57 danish kroner
- 3 norwegian kroner
- 23 rupees
- 34 serbian cents
- 15 rubles
Would you willingly give up your career and prospects as well as much of your personal life to take on a job with that little pay? Could you take your friends and family accusing you of being lazy or a benefits sponge because they don’t understand why you had to leave work to look after someone you love? Have you had to put on a happy face and carry on as normal even though you’re falling apart inside? Carers have to every day.