Social care provision

Keeva Rooney, Robin Darton, Raphael Wittenberg (2014)

in Health Survey for England 2014 ,

  • This chapter presents results about the provision of unpaid social care by adults aged 16 and over. This is defined as help or support provided to someone because of longterm physical or mental ill-health, a disability or problems relating to old age. It excludes any help given in a professional capacity or as part of a job.
  • 17% of adults provided unpaid help or support to other people, with women more likely than men to do so (20% and 14% respectively).
  • Provision of unpaid care varied by region. The highest proportions of people providing care were found in Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands for both men and women, and also in the East of England for women (21-23%). Proportions providing care were lowest in the North West for both sexes (10% for men, 16% for women), and also relatively low in the West Midlands and London among men (11-12%).
  • Prevalence of providing unpaid care was lowest among those in higher income households (11-13% of men, 17-20% of women in the highest two quintiles), and increased with decreasing income (16-17% of men, 23% of women in the lowest two quintiles).
  • There has been little change between 2011-2014 in the proportions reporting that they provide care and support. Over the period, 14-15% of men and 18-20% of women said that they did so.
  • Care was most commonly provided to a parent; nearly half of adults who provided care did this (49%). Men were more likely than women to provide help or support for a spouse or partner, with just under a fifth doing so (19%, compared with 12% of women). Help to other categories of family members, neighbours and friends was provided by under 10% in each case.
  • The people to whom care was provided varied according to the age of the carer. Those under 65 were likely to be caring for parents (44% aged 16-44, 65% aged 45-64). Among carers aged 16-44, care for a grandparent was also relatively common (21%). Older carers were more likely than younger ones to help their spouses (34% of carers aged 65 and over, compared with 7-12% in younger age groups), friends (15% and 6-7% respectively) and neighbours (16% and 3-5% respectively).
  • Most commonly, those who provided help and support said that they did so for between 1-9 hours in the last week (48% of adults providing care). However, a substantial proportion of men and women provided more care: 27% provided 10 or more hours in the last week.
  • Carers who provided at least 20 hours of care in the last week were asked about the types of activities they helped with. The most frequently mentioned were two instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs); shopping for food and getting out of the house (each 76%). Of a range of activities of daily living (ADLs), the most common was helping people take their medicine (52%), followed by help with bathing, dressing and eating (between 39% and 43%).
  • Adults who provided unpaid care were asked whether their own health had been affected in the last three months by the care they had provided. More men than women said that caring had not had any impact on their health (59% and 47% respectively). The most common effects were feeling tired (31% of unpaid carers), a general feeling of stress (29%), disturbed sleep (22%) or feeling short tempered (20%).
  • Adults up to the age of 64 were asked about whether their caring had had any impact on their employment, and most reported that it had not (81% of men, 78% of women). The most frequently mentioned impact was to be working fewer hours (7% of men and 8% of women).