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Unpaid Carers - Data

Elderly man with carer


What you told us

In Autumn 2020 we consulted with carers, people they care for and staff who support them on their views on services. Read our report here.

We used this information in our consultation for the Strategic Plan 2022-25 (PDF).

What the data tells us 

12% of the Lothian population are carers. The Midlothian figure at the last census was 9.9% which is about 9,200 people. Many carers do not identify what they do as “caring”. Two thirds of identified carers are women. Women are more likely than men to view what they do as part of their existing role. Often people do not recognise what they do as caring until the role intensifies.

2,173 people reported providing more than 50 hours care per week.

The majority of carers provide care to a parent, closely followed by care to other relatives including spouses, children and siblings. They are most likely caring for someone with a physical health condition, who has dementia, or who is frail or elderly.

In the 2021 VOCAL Carers survey, 79% of respondents in Midlothian agreed that being a carer has affected their mental health, with 38% strongly agreeing. This is an increase on the 2017 survey where 55% agreed with the statement “being a carer has made my health worse”. 

 Intensive caring can result in carers being more likely to experience ill-health than non carers, 64% agreed that being a carer affected their physical health.  The survey demonstrated that respondents have experienced barriers accessing care for themselves due to caring responsibilities, 49% of respondents have experiences at least one barrier to accessing care for themselves.

In the 2021 survey, 51% of carers agreed they felt isolated from family and friends, which is an increase from 42% in 2017, the pandemic could have impacted on this response.

32% of carers feel supported to continue in their caring role. This is lower than the Scottish average of 34%.

Across Scotland the largest proportion of households with a carer (28%) are in the 20% most deprived data zones in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. There is evidence of the financial and economic impact of caring: 20% of respondents are paying for care out of their own savings; 27% have had to reduce their working hours and 31% have had to give up work altogether. 22% have lost out on NI or pension contributions as a result

Over half of carers in the 2021 VOCAL survey described how they find it hard taking a break from caring, citing feelings of stress, guilt and worry. 87% of respondents experienced challenged when taking a break and all of the barriers are experience to a greater extent than in 2017. As part of the legislative changes a break from caring must be considered when carrying out an Adult Carer Support Plan. The consideration of emergency planning for carers is also requirement of the new legislation and is seen as helpful in promoting a prevention agenda. 87% of respondents expressed concern about contingency planning, again higher than in 2017.

The Covid-19 Pandemic has had a major impact on respite and time away from caring. Some services ceased and only critical support has been provided face to face. In the UK 81% of carers have been providing more care since the pandemic started and 78% said the needs of the person they care for have increased.

In the 2021 survey 85% of respondents had been supported by VOCAL in the past. There were other support services identified with high levels of engagement with carers; Citizen’s Advice Scotland (13%), British Red Cross (12%) and Alzheimer’s Scotland (10%).  Carers who access VOCAL services reported that the most common types of services utilised were obtaining general information (64%), Wee Breaks and respite (41%) and online and digital information (38%). The survey also looked at future support where emotional and wellbeing support was identified as the top service of interest, along with speaking to someone in confidence and support to have time away from caring.

VOCAL Midlothian are the main source of support to carers locally. The VOCAL Survey 2021 indicates that 47% of respondents said that the help they receive from VOCAL makes make a big difference to their ability to care. Respondents identify a range of positive impacts, focusing on health, the provision of information, financial assistance, time away from caring, and learning new skills.  In recognition of the updated definition of a carer and the duties under the Act Midlothian has chosen to delegate some of these duties to the local carers centre (VOCAL).