The provision of unpaid care makes an important contribution to the supply of care. As the population grows and ages, an increasing number of people are likely to continue to provide significant levels of care.
The value of unpaid care in Warwickshire is estimated to be between £575m and £1.24bn per year. As such, it is important to recognise the potential impact that providing many hours of care each week may have on carers’ own quality of life – their physical and mental health, employment opportunities and social and leisure activities.
The 2011 Census provides a valuable update on the picture of unpaid care provision in Warwickshire. It indicates that Warwickshire has 59,240 people or 11% of the population providing some form of unpaid care each week.
Rates of unpaid care provision are similar to those in 2001 (although absolute numbers have increased), but the data suggests that carers are providing more hours of care each week than ten years ago. In 2011, around one in five carers (12,438 people) in Warwickshire were providing more than fifty hours of unpaid care each week.
At District/Borough level, North Warwickshire residents report the highest rate of unpaid carers (12.1%) followed by Nuneaton & Bedworth and Stratford-on-Avon (both 11.3%). Rugby (10.4%) and Warwick (9.8%) residents are least likely to be unpaid carers.
At a CCG level, Warwickshire North have the highest proportion of unpaid carers (11.6%) and carers providing 50 or more hours of care each week (2.9%). While Coventry & Rugby CCG has the largest absolute numbers of residents providing unpaid care, it’s useful to look at the numbers of hours of care provided. South Warwickshire CCG has the highest proportion of the three CCG areas providing lower levels of care (between 1-19 hours) at 7.5%.
Women were more likely to be unpaid carers than men (58% and 42% respectively). This gender difference remains broadly similar irrespective of the number of hours of care undertaken each week. Unsurprisingly, rates of unpaid care provision increase with age among both men and women, up to the age of 65. The data indicates that the share of unpaid care provision is highest for women aged 50-64 years. Indeed, one in four women in this age group provides some level of unpaid care. The gender difference appears to diminish among those aged 65 plus, with men slightly more likely to provide unpaid care than women.
Those providing unpaid care were more likely to describe their general health as ‘not good’; 25% of those providing some unpaid care each week described their health as ‘not good’ compared with a lower proportion of 17% among those who provided no care at all. Moreover, there appears to be a relationship between the self-reported health status of unpaid carers and the amount of unpaid care provided. In Warwickshire, of those caring for fifty plus hours per week, 43% describe their health as ‘not good’.
Younger carers (aged between 0 and 24 years) are identified as of particular concern because of the potential impact of caring responsibilities on educational outcomes and wider social opportunities. Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level and those aged 16-18 are twice as likely as their peers to be not in employment, education or training (NEET).
The 2011 Census reveals that just over three and a half thousand young people report providing some level of unpaid care each week in the county, with almost 400 young people reporting caring for more than 50 hours per week. The difference between the health status of those providing unpaid care and those who do not is most pronounced among those aged 0-24 years. Carers in this age category are twice as likely to report that their health is ‘not good’ compared with their peers who provide no care. This difference increases with young carers who care for 50 hours or more per week; they are five times more likely to report their health as ‘not good’ compared to those of the same age providing no care. This implies that high levels of unpaid care have a greater adverse effect on the health of young people.
More detail on carers is available in the Carers JSNA which was published in 2016.