Stop being ostriches: carers need more support, argue longevity experts

A new briefing, released by the International Longevity Centre, highlights new analysis that shows that the average person in the UK spends more hours caring for others – by parenting, caring, and working unpaid in the home – than looking after themselves, and those on lower incomes are even more likely to neglect themselves.

The ILC’s new briefing “Do they care?” argues that as we live longer lives, more of us will spend periods of life both caring and being cared for – not just as children and parents but also as adults. It highlights how current systems of adult social care offer threadbare financial and practical support to carers, while those who access paid-for services, find themselves reliant on a creaking system, beset by decades of underfunding.

The ILC analysis of the latest time-use data brings together all the things we do to care for others and shows that all adults over 24 spend more time caring for others than on personal care. It also illustrates how our caring responsibilities impact our ability to earn money and care for ourselves:

  • People on the lowest incomes (under £1,700 net per month) spend an average of 3 hours and 21 minutes a day caring for others, 2 hours and 1 minute on paid work and 2 hours 46 minutes on personal care
  • Those on higher incomes (over £3,300 net per month) spend an average of 2 hours 46 minutes a day caring for others, 4 hours 51 minutes on paid work and 2 hours 40 minutes on personal care

Ducking the issue

David Sinclair, Chief Executive at the International Longevity Centre UK, said:“When it comes to care, especially caring for adults, we’re all ostriches. We put off conversations about our future needs and don’t make plans, and we ignore the inadequacies of our system until it’s too late. With little public debate about care, successive Governments have ducked the issue for decades.”

“ILC’s latest analysis shows that we’re a nation of carers – already spending more time looking after others than ourselves – and that is the case across our lives.

“But while politicians recognise the need for proper policy to support us as we look after children, they bury their heads in the sand when it comes to supporting the other types of care we provide.

“There’s been at least one major report a year for the last quarter of a century shouting about the need to address the issues around adult social care.  But we’re still waiting for action.”

“It’s a treadmill we will only get off if our politicians lift their heads out of the sand.”

Please share: