What factors are associated with the quality of life of unpaid carers of social care service users?

Theresia Bäumker, Diane Fox, Ann Netten, Stacey Rand (2016)

The contribution of unpaid carers to the social care system and the need to support them are key issues in adult social care policy and practice in England. If local authorities are to effectively support carers, they need to better understand what influences carers’ quality of life and facilitate the support required to deliver positive outcomes. This study used the 2009/2010 Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England (PSS SACE) to explore variations in the quality of life of carers in contact with local authorities. Most of the observed variation in carers’ quality of life, as measured by a new carers’ social care-related quality of life measure, was linked to differences in individual characteristics with a small amount of variation attributable to local area characteristics. A key finding of this study is that carers’ experiences of support and services are also significantly associated with their quality of life. The results suggest that and easy access to helpful information and advice and easy access to support, are of particular importance. In this era of fiscal constraint, we suggest that an outcomes-focused approach may support the effective targeting of services. Carers are a heterogeneous group and the results reported in this paper highlight that, within this diversity, some carers are at greater risk of reporting poor quality of life than others.