Factors associated with unpaid carers’ quality of life: The similarities and differences between ethnic groups

Diane Fox, Theresia Bäumker, Ann Netten (2016)

The UK population is becoming increasingly diverse, creating the need for a more nuanced understanding of the varied circumstances and needs of social care service users and their carers, particularly those from black and ethnic minority (BME) groups. The 2010 Equalities Act places a new duty on public sector organisations to remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by people sharing a protected characteristic, which includes race. The important contribution made by relatives, friends and neighbours in supporting people with physical or learning disabilities, sensory impairments, mental health problems or long term health conditions is increasingly recognised in policy and legislation. With an ageing population and a climate of fiscal restraint, an increasing reliance on unpaid carers is likely, but there are very few UK-based studies comparing the experiences of carers from different ethnic groups. We describe the analysis and findings of a self-completion postal survey of carers, the Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers in England (PSS SACE) which was collected by 90 councils with adult social service responsibilities (CASSRs) in England between late 2009 and early 2010. From an eligible population of 175,600 carers, 87,801 were sampled and questionnaires posted to them. The number of respondents was 35,165, an overall response rate of 40 per cent. Overall, 2,794 carers from BME groups completed the survey. Preliminary analysis identified significant differences between carers of different ethnic groups in their demographic profiles, access to services and their quality of life scores. Multivariate analysis controlling for these differences was subsequently carried out. The results show that the predictors of good quality of life differ by ethnic group, highlighting that the design of future social care services should be tailored accordingly, in order to adequately meet the diverse needs and circumstances of unpaid carers.