Carer-reported quality of life

Using a survey of adult carers we explore what carers say about their quality of life.


Last updated: 24/02/2022

Patient experience
Social care Integrated care


There are an estimated 8.8 million carers in the UK providing unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members and friends. With an ageing population and people living longer with multiple chronic conditions, this number is increasing rapidly. The pressures of caring can have a negative impact on a carer’s 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. More recently, the Carers Action Plan 2018 to 2020 set out the Government’s commitment to supporting carers through 64 planned actions, building on the National Carers Strategy. The Survey of Adult Carers in England can be used to monitor the impact of these strategies. This indicator gives an overarching view of the quality of life of carers, based on responses to the survey.

How has carer-reported quality of life changed over time? 13/08/2019

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Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the average carer-reported quality of life score decreased from 7.7 to 7.5 (out of a maximum score of 12), indicating a deterioration in their overall quality of life. Between 2012/13 and 2014/15 the average score also decreased from 8.1 to 7.9. There was a change to the eligible population in 2016/17, so results are not comparable with those from previous surveys. 

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 7.9 to 7.7 between 2016/17 and 2018/19, and the quality of life score for women declined from 7.6 to 7.4 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' category.

For details on how this score is calculated, please see ‘About this data’ below. 

There are no results available for 2020/21 due to the additional pressures that Covid-19 has brought on services, the next survey will take place in 2021/22 and be published in June 2022.

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.

In 2016/17, the eligible population changed so that in addition to including carers that have had a carer’s assessment or review from the local authority in the 12 months prior to the survey taking place, carers were also included who had not been assessed or review during the previous 12 months.

For more information, please see Adult social care outcomes framework: handbook of definitions.