Supporting unpaid carers to have a life of their own alongside caring

May 18, 2015

by Stacey Rand, Research Officer at the PSSRU

All views are my own and do not reflect the views of PSSRU, ASCOT or anyone else

Across the UK, there are over 6.5 million people caring unpaid for an ill, disabled or frail family member or friend. Although this is often just part of the relationships we have with friends or family, there is a growing move to recognise the contribution of unpaid carers and the support they need from people, organisations and services.

Unpaid carers are under all sorts of pressure. They may find it difficult to balance commitments outside of caring, such as paid work, childcare or leisure activities. It may be difficult to get to GP appointments or to find the time to look after their own health. So, how can carers be best supported to have a life of their own alongside caring and to look after themselves?

There are many organisations and services that seek to support unpaid carers at a local or national level. These offer a range of support for carers – informal support groups, activities, practical help and advice, or a confidential listening ear.

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As part of the move to show how these services help carers to have a life of their own alongside caring, we have developed a questionnaire that asks carers about aspects of their life that are important to them and may be affected by such support. For example, doing things they value and enjoy, seeing friends and family, and feeling in control of their life. It also asks whether and how support by organisations and services affect their lives in these different areas.

This questionnaire, the Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit for Carers (ASCOT-Carer), has been in development for a number of years. The questionnaire is now available from the ASCOT team (, www.pssru.ac.uk/ascot) for use by researchers, practitioners and service providers to explore and evaluate how support affects the lives of carers.

The ASCOT-Carer will be introduced along with other new versions of ASCOT at a free webinar on 15th June 2015. For more information or to register please go to: https://www.pssru.ac.uk/ascot/events/2015/2015-05-18/information.php.

We will also be presenting on the ASCOT-Carer at the 6th International Carers Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, 4th – 6th September 2015. For more information please go to: http://www.neilstewartassociates.com/sh323/.

To find out more, please email .