According to the 2011 census, there are around 6.5 million carers in the UK providing unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members and friends (Carers UK, 2013). With an ageing population and people living longer with one or more chronic conditions, this number is expected to increase rapidly. The pressures of caring can have a negative impact on carers' physical and mental health, and can affect their finances and ability to work.
The Government implemented the Care Act 2014 which recognised carers in the law in the same way as those they care for. The Act gave local authorities the responsibility to assess a carer's need for support, and if eligible they are entitled to receive that support. This indicator gives an overarching view of the quality of life of carers based on responses to the Survey of Adult Carers in England.
In 2010, the Government's Next steps for the Carers Strategy set out aims for carers to have a life of their own alongside their caring role, for them to be supported so that they are not forced into financial hardship, and for them to be supported to stay mentally and physically well. To assess whether these outcomes are being met, we can look at carer-reported quality of life scores based on responses to the Survey of Adult Carers in England. For details on how this score is calculated please see 'about this data' below.
Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, the average carer-reported quality of life score decreased from 8.1 to 7.7 (out of a maximum score of 12), indicating a deterioration in their overall quality of life. Carer-reported quality of life scores were 0.3 points higher in men than women across all years. The quality of life score for men decreased from 8.3 to 7.9 between 2012-13 and 2016-17, and the quality of life score for women decreased from 8.0 to 7.6 over the same time period. Carers in the '65 and over' category had an average quality of life score that was 0.5 to 0.6 points higher than those in the '18-64' year old category across all years.
About this data
The carer-reported quality of life score is a composite measure which combines individual responses to six questions, measuring different outcomes related to overall quality of life. The six questions, drawn from the Survey of Adult Carers in England, are:
- Which of the following statements best describes how you spend your time?
- Which of the following statements best describes how much control you have over your daily life?
- Thinking about how much time you have to look after yourself in terms of getting enough sleep or eating well – which statement best describes your present situation?
- Thinking about your personal safety, which of the statements best describes your present situation?
- Thinking about how much social contact you’ve had with people you like, which of the following statements best describes your social situation?
- Thinking about encouragement and support in your caring role, which of the following statements best describes your present situation?
Each of the questions has three possible answers, which are equated with having: no unmet needs, some needs met, and no needs met. A score of zero for a respondent would indicate a high level of need in each of the domains and a low quality of life score. Conversely, a (maximum) score of 12 would indicate no unmet needs and a high quality of life score.
Any respondents who failed to answer any of the six questions were excluded from the analysis. This measure forms section 1D of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework.
For more information, please see Adult social care outcomes framework: handbook of definitions.