Many of the UK’s 800,000 young carers do not know how to pay household bills and are unable to budget accordingly, suggests evidence from Auriga Services.
With carers’ duties exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, findings from BHSF’s financial support partner highlight the added difficulties younger carers are having with money management.
According to Auriga Services, the majority of young carers:
• do not know how to handle household bills and budgeting
• have not reported their change of circumstance to Jobcentre Plus or the department for work and pensions
• do not understand the eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance and need help filling in the application form. The same applies to other forms of support such as Council Tax reduction.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted on behalf of the Carers Trust found that 58 per cent of 12-17-year-old carers were spending ten hours a week extra on their duties during lockdown, with this figure rising to 64 per cent among 18-25-year-olds.
This has contributed to a decline in the mental health and wellbeing of 40 per cent of young carers, while 42 per cent said they have been unable to take a break from caring since lockdown began.
Further findings from Auriga Services aggravate these disheartening statistics. They have learned that there is very little support available to help carers combine caring responsibilities with their studies or with paid work.
Additionally carers are not recognised as a demographic who need support and their own health problems are not being addressed. Auriga have found that assessments of young carers’ health needs have been less likely to take place during lockdown.
Carers have also had problems accessing medication for both themselves and their families and this has had a detrimental impact on their health.
“There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the care needs of patients, for those in care homes and for those who are at home,” said Maureen Gaudin, co-founder of Tutella, BHSF’s carer support partner.
“We have seen a shift in clients enquiring about placing their loved ones into care homes to keeping them at home and managing their long-term illnesses as best they can. Many are making this decision as a necessary precaution to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19.
“This shift in care needs affects both those cared for and those who have become sole care providers, many of whom are attempting to work or study at the same time.
“And without the reprieve of going to school or being able to see friends, young carers are experiencing high levels of uncertainty and anxiety, with many overwhelmed by the increased demands of care or falling behind on schoolwork.”
Gaudin understands why more patients with care needs are being kept at home during the pandemic but she is interested to see what the future holds.
“It is unsurprising that people have opted to keep loved ones at home,” she said. “A poll conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research found a third of people were less likely to seek residential care as a result of Covid-19.
“Care homes can be prone to coronavirus outbreaks due to close living quarters, the necessary risk of external staff caring for the residents and also because some elderly residents may have underlying illnesses that can affect their ability to fight the virus.
“Attitudes towards placing loved ones in care homes will not change overnight, and the mental health fall-out may be with us for years to come.
“What is clear is that more awareness and more support is needed for those struggling to cope during the pandemic, and further research needs to be done to determine the best course of action within the ‘new normal’.”