Research from Dimbley Cancer Care shows that end-of-life family carers have higher levels of anxiety, depression and general distress than other carers, and the general population.
It is estimated there are around 500,000 family carers across the UK, providing end-of-life care every year. Carers of people with cancer give a median of nearly 70 hours of care per week in the patient’s last months. That’s without including the broader network of family and friends who may be involved in caring for someone.
In a report, Marie Curie estimated that there are 6.8 million people giving unpaid care for people living with all health conditions in the UK, which would be worth £132 billion every year.
This will be one of the themes discussed at the annual Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Conference next month.
Family carers come from all walks of life, but the majority of end-of-life carers are women. Most are people caring for a spouse, and both patient and carer are often older people. But there’s also a large proportion of carers who are adult children caring for a parent.
Many studies show that end-of-life carers have worse physical health than some other carers or comparable groups. Family carers also have considerably higher levels of anxiety, depression and general distress than other carers or the general population.
Last year, the Government undertook a wide-ranging consultation to examine the different types of support carers need during and after their role end. A response that will set out clearly how this group will be supported in the future is still awaited.