A STAGGERING 70 per cent of unpaid carers in the UK are having to provide more care for their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak.

A third (35 per cent) of them are providing more care because their local care and support services have been reduced or closed.

A survey by the national charity Carers UK of nearly 5,000 unpaid carers showed that, on average, carers are picking up an additional 10 hours of unpaid care per week, helping loved ones with personal care, practical tasks and emotional support.

Reduced care and support services, and paid care workers isolating or without personal protective equipment (PPE), mean many carers have no choice but to care round the clock for loved ones with complex health conditions and disabilities - without any hope of a break.

More than half (55 per cent) of unpaid carers told the charity they feel overwhelmed managing their caring responsibilities during the outbreak and are worried about burning out in the coming weeks.

Before coronavirus, social care services were already in short supply and those families with support met a high threshold to get any form of care. Now, some of those services have disappeared and unpaid carers are having to cope alone.

Carers UK is calling on government to acknowledge the huge efforts of unpaid carers protecting vulnerable people during this epidemic. Carers desperately want paid care staff to have better access to testing and personal protective equipment, as well as wanting access themselves, so they can keep the people they care for safe.

Helen Walker

Carers UK