This survey took place in April – June 2015 with 2,597 surveys sent out by post to carers registered with Carers Network in both Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham.
Surveys only went to carers who had not had a carers assessment with their local council in the last year (as these carers had already been asked to complete the national carers survey).
13% of surveys were returned, compared with 5% in 2013.
We followed up the survey with some in-depth interviews with carers in Westminster who cared for someone for more than 50 hours each week.
- Half of carers describe themselves as caring ‘all day every day’ and in total 69% care for 50 hours or more each week. 70% were long-term carers who had been caring for five years or more.
- Many carers themselves suffered from ill-health: 26% had a long term illness and 21% a physical impairment.
- Around 40% of carers were aware of the core Carers Network activities (carers assessments, social activities, emergency planning, grants and newsletter). Fewer carers were aware of our carers training and only 12% had attended support groups. Only 8% had used the website but when we conducted in-depth interviews the majority told us they felt confident about using the internet and had access in their home.
- When we asked more detailed questions about the benefits of support groups only 38% of carers responded. Those who did respond said they felt better in themselves and learnt about local services at support groups, they also made new friends and tried new activities. 3% of carers said the groups did not help them at all.
- 34% of carers told us they did not attend support groups because they ran at the wrong time and 27% were not aware of the groups. Almost all of the carers of 50 hours or more per week told us that they simply did not have the time to attend groups.
- The sorts of activities carers would like Carers Network to deliver in future were financial support, social activities and breaks and information about local services. Just over half of carers also wanted Carers Network to provide relaxation and stress relief and 46% wanted advice on their rights and help with form filling.
- Overall 40% of carers told us they had the support they needed, and 19% had no support in their caring role.
- Only 31% of carers felt they had as much social contact as they want and worryingly 26% described themselves as socially isolated. It was a more positive picture on care planning, with 77% of carers reporting that they felt involved in planning the care of the person they support.