New research from O2 Health has found that friends or family who care for people who are old or have conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy collectively spend 196 million hours worrying about them every week. The research coincides with the launch of O2 Health's new mobile care service, Help at Hand.

Help at Hand aims to provide  reassurance or peace-of-mind by connecting people to those they depend on for care. It comprises a special handset with a fall detector, GPS tracking, designated "safe zones" and a special one-touch button that links to a 24/7 support centre that can contact loved ones, carers, or the emergency services if help is needed.  

When asked what impact caring has on them and their lives, 15% said they feel stressed and 7% said physical ill health. One in 10 (8%)-an estimated 560,000 people-said they have had to give up work or are considering doing so in order to fulfil their
caring role. According to the research, carers are worrying for good reason. A third (34%) of elderly people or those with a long-term health condition say they lack the confidence or reassurance they need to get out and about. Nearly half (46%) lack this confidence because they worry they will be affected by their condition or vulnerability when out of the house. A fifth (20%) say they worry every time they step outside the front door.

Just under two-thirds (65%) of those who do some caring agreed or strongly agreed that they would feel more at ease if the person they supported had a way of alerting others to a fall, a fit, or just being able to call for help whenever or wherever they needed it at any time of the day.

Knowing that help and support was available to the person they care for at the touch of a button would make them feel reassured (48%) or would provide peace-of-mind (35%).