Unpaid carers are increasingly turning to Google for advice about financial and mental health concerns amid the cost of living crisis.
New research by Lottie, a elder care employee benefit solution, has found that online searches for phrases such as ‘carer stress syndrome’ and ‘carer burnout’ have reached an all-time high.
There has also been a 357% increase in online searches for ‘unpaid carers allowance’ and a 200% increase in searches for ‘support for unpaid carers’.
Searches for ‘unpaid carer benefits’ and ‘unpaid carers rights’ are up by 133% and 100% respectively.
‘The tipping point of a care giver crisis’
It is estimated that one in seven working UK adults (or 5 million people) are juggling caring responsibilities with work.
With inflation expected to rise to 13% by the end of the year, an increasing number of people are struggling to keep up with the increasing prices of energy, utilities bills and food.
Unpaid carers have been hit particularly hard by these price increases, with many unable to work due to their caring responsibilities.
Last month, 50 disability charities wrote to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the two remaining candidates battling to become the next Prime Minister, asking them to prioritise people with disabilities in plans to tackle the cost of living crisis. However, both candidates have so far failed to respond.
Lottie’s SeniorCare Lead Ronan Harvey-Kelly says the government must urgently recognise the unpaid care crisis that’s unravelling.
“All unpaid carers – whether they’re in employment or not – need financial, wellbeing and practical support. It isn’t enough to recognise the crisis; we need clear guidelines on the support available,” he said.
This research highlights a clear need for extra mental health support for family carers too, and Mr Harvey-Kelly warns that there is a risk unpaid carers will become socially isolated without the right support.
“Social isolation can have a devastating impact on your physical health and mental wellbeing, including higher levels of stress, increased feelings of depression and burnout.
“We’re already seeing the stress that unpaid carers are facing in their everyday lives, which will only increase when they’re facing the cost-of-living crisis. Right now, we need to place even more pressure on the government to ensure there’s enough support for unpaid carers across the UK,” he said.
What are my rights as an unpaid carer?
Since many people who provide unpaid care are unaware of their rights, Lottie has outlined the various financial, practical, and emotional support available to unpaid carers. This includes:
Unpaid carers may be entitled to certain benefits paid for by the Government – including a carer’s allowance – so it’s worth checking what you can receive.
This could relieve some of the pressure and worry facing anyone caring for an elderly relative during this financial crisis. It’s also worth checking via a benefits calculator, as you may also be able to claim for support with your council tax or help with fuel costs.
All carers are entitled to a carer’s assessment from their local council. You may be able to ask for additional support (especially if you’re a working carer), or any equipment to make caring for your loved one easier.
Alternatively, if the person you care for requires round-the-clock support and you’re unable to provide this, you can browse local care homes that offer nursing or residential care.
Your close friends and family may be able to support you and help with caring duties to take some pressure off you. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to connect with those in similar situations. A quick search online will highlight various local support groups for you to attend.
It’s understandable to feel isolated and lonely and confiding in loved ones and opening up to those around you can feel like a huge relief. However, if you’re struggling with your mental health, it is important you speak to a medical professional – there is always help available.