Do you support a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill? Whether you provide a few hours of support a week or provide continuous care, you are one of the 6.5 million carers in the UK. Within the next 20 years, the number of carers is expected to rise to over 9 million.
- Over 2 million people every year take on new caring responsibilities
- 3 out of 5 people will experience caring for a loved one at some point in their lives
- Care provided by loved ones and family members is worth an estimated £119 billion per year which is more than the total net expenditure of the NHS
- Around 1 in 9 workers in the UK have caring responsibilities
- Most carers care for their parents or parents-in-law
- A quarter of carers care for their spouse or partner
- 13% of carers care for disabled children
- 4% of carers care for their grandparents
- 1 in 10 carers care for a friend or neighbour
- 58% of carers provide care for someone with a physical disability
- 20% of carers provide support for someone with a sensory impairment
- 13% of carers provide care for someone with a mental health problem
- 10% of carers provide support for someone with dementia.
Carers and medication
Care for others can involve practical help with medication, from a simple reminder to take it to helping to administer the medication to the person they are looking after.
Carers report some of the common support they provide is around medication and includes,
- Collecting prescriptions and medication
- Reminding the person they care for to take their medication
- Administering eye drops, injections or other types of medication
- Transporting people to hospitals and other care locations to receive treatment and medication
- Helping to record and keep track of when medication has been taken and in some cases, not taken
- Communicating what prescribed medication the person they care for takes to health care professionals
Carers and organising care
Carers can face challenging situations when trying to organise and communicate the health and care needs of the person they are caring for.
People in later stages of life often have co-existing illnesses, need an array of services and treatments, and carers needed to coordinate and communicate on behalf of their loved one.
Multiple hospital admissions and multiple medication treatments and changes mean that carers often report the need to:
- Carry and communicate the medication of the person they care for
- Remember allergy information and the medical conditions of the person they care for
- Contact the GP to advise of medication changes after hospital consultations
- Carry letters and test results for the person they care for between different healthcare providers.
The health of carers
Carers are vital to the independence and well-being of thousands of people. However, supporting and caring for others can be very demanding and stressful resulting in significant impacts to the health and wellbeing of carers.
- 390,000 carers reported being in bad health in the 2011 Census
- Carers are less likely to find time for medical check-ups and treatment
- Two in five carers report they have had to put off treatment due to their caring responsibilities
- 60% – 70% of carers are likely to have a long-standing health problem
- Carers compared to non-carers are more likely to have higher levels of arthritis, high blood pressure, long-term back problems, diabetes, mobility problems, anxiety and depression
- People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled themselves.
How can technology help?
A survey in 2012 found that the benefit to carers from new technology enabled care and support are considerable.
New health technology and mobile apps can help carers to:
- Get medication reminders and support
- Monitor health and help in the self-management of blood pressure, weight, blood glucose etc.
- Connect to other health professionals and carers involved in the care of the person they are supporting
- Share health information quickly and easily
- Access information and advice
- Stay in work or return to work alongside caring
Introducing: Evergreen Life Share & Care
The Share & Care feature of the Evergreen Life Personal Health Record app enables people to share their important health information with trusted healthcare providers, loved ones or family members in order to receive the health and care they want.
It allows carers to:
- View and record critical health information about the person they care for including,
- A full medication record from our extensive medication library
- A full medical condition historical record
- A full allergy record from our drug and allergen library
- A full vaccination record with booster and re-vaccination reminders
- Set up medication reminders to remind you or the person you care for when their next medication is due.
- Record simply and effectively when medication has been taken or not taken
- See a full medication diary to track and monitor medication adherence
- Record and help monitor blood pressure, weight, blood glucose and other important health information and measurements
- Store, record and view important health-related letters, referrals and results in one place.
- Manage your own personal health record to support your own health and care needs.
Carers UK. 2014. Facts about Carers.
Office of National Statistics. 2013. 2011 Census analysis: Unpaid care in England and Wales, 2011 and comparison with 2011.
Department of Health. 2015. 2010 to 2015 government policy: carers’ health.
Carers Trust. 2014. A Carers Guide to Managing Medicines.
Healthtalk.org. 2015. Taking control – difficult situations and medication.
Premier Care Plus. 2011. Patients with advanced co-existing illnesses and their carers face an uphill struggle.