More than eight out of 10 unpaid carers say they have not had a break since March 2020
The vast majority of unpaid carers have had “no respite” since the pandemic began.
Research shows that more than eight out of 10 unpaid carers say they have not had a break since March 2020.
Pressures also hit care service workers - who support unpaid carers - with more than three quarters (76%) dealing with an increased workload since the beginning of last year, according to Carers Trust Scotland.
The charity has released research about the experiences of the pandemic among unpaid carers and carer service support workers across Scotland.
More than 500 participants shared the challenges of caring and supporting unpaid carers throughout the pandemic.
The pandemic has been difficult for unpaid carers, with 90% of respondents stating they are spending more time caring and 82% saying they have had no respite since the beginning of the pandemic. With lockdowns and restrictions, many unpaid carers have been unable to share the responsibilities with family and friends and many services have had to pause or reduce their input.
These challenges also impact those carer service workers supporting unpaid carers. As other services paused, 76% of carer support workers that participated found their workload increased.
Meanwhile, 65% say that their job role has changed, as delivery of support moved online. Carer support workers highlighted the emotionally demanding calls from unpaid carers, and the challenges of taking these calls in a home working environment without the support of colleagues that you would have in an office.
Hannah Martin, research and engagement officer for Carers Trust Scotland, said: “The pandemic has been a very challenging time for both unpaid carers and carer support workers. The challenges unpaid carers have faced, have directly impacted those supporting them. Through the lived experience of unpaid carers and carer support workers, this research illuminates those challenges throughout this unprecedented time.”
In addition to providing an evidence base of experiences, the research puts forward recommendations and suggestions to support carer services and staff as they move out of the crisis phase of the pandemic. This includes recognising and valuing the incredible contribution of unpaid carers, and carer support workers over the pandemic period.
World-leading researcher on unpaid carers’ rights and Carers Trust Ambassador, Professor Saul Becker, said: “During the pandemic, unpaid carers of all ages, have been spending more time caring and more people than ever before have taken on unpaid caring responsibilities while statutory and other support services have been reduced or not available.
"This has also added additional pressures on carer support services that have had to adapt their practices quickly and provide holistic support to unpaid carers during very challenging circumstances.
"I welcome this Covid-19 in Scotland impact report on unpaid carers and carer service workers and believe every effort should be made to support the implementation of the report recommendations and suggestions, which could further improve the lives of unpaid carers and recognise and value the vital role of carer support services.”
Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart, said: “Carers, and the services that support them have done a remarkable job in very difficult circumstances over this past year during the pandemic. I want to thank them for all their hard work and effort.
“During the pandemic, we have invested an additional £1.9 million in extra carer support via carer organisations. The Scottish Government continues to work closely with the Carers Trust and national care organisations to ensure that carers continue to receive the support and the services they rely on. We will continue to do so as we move into a new phase of the pandemic and society starts to open up.
“The Scottish Government is committed to establishing a National Care Service by the end of this parliament to oversee the delivery care, invest in better terms and conditions for the workforce and provide better support for unpaid carers.”