The Average person in Northern Ireland is more likely to be an unpaid carer than a homeowner. You are more likely to care unpaid for a loved one than own your own home if you live in Northern Ireland, new figures show.
Carers UK has published analysis by the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham of data from 1991 to 2018 which shows that two thirds (66%) of adults in Northern Ireland have cared unpaid for a loved one. This is higher than estimates showing 61% of the population owns their own home.
Owning a home is a common life milestone and something many people prepare for.
But figures released for Carers Rights Day reveal the stark reality that the average person in Northern Ireland is more likely to become an unpaid carer for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill – something that few people are prepared for.
Clare-Anne Magee, Head of Carers NI, said: “Many of us don’t expect to become an unpaid carer but the reality is the majority of us in Northern Ireland will do it in our lifetimes.
“Whilst we can’t predict when someone will care – it could happen over-night through an accident or sudden illness or it can creep up over time through a degenerative condition or increasing frailty – we should be doing more as a society to ensure people are better prepared for caring and can access the information and support they need.
“We need action from government, statutory bodies, employers, our public and private services and communities to help us prepare and plan for caring in our future.”
The research also reveals that the average person in Northern Ireland has a 50:50 chance of caring by age 47 – long before they reach retirement age.
Half of women will care by the age of 43, compared to half of men who can expect to care at 52 meaning women can expect to take on caring responsibilities nine years earlier than men.
This means that women in Northern Ireland are far more likely to care during their working life – highlighting the need for employers to support women to return to work and to stay in work by adopting flexible working practices and a right of five to ten days of paid care leave.
Previous research by the charity reveals significant consequences for carers coping without support. In a recent study of those caring more than 50 hours per week, almost half (49%) reported their finances had been negatively impacted, 52% had suffered poorer physical health and the vast majority (77%) were suffering from stress or anxiety as a result of missing out.
Carers NI is urging the next government, both locally and at Westminster, to prioritise long-term investment in our social care system so that thousands of people caring for loved ones in Northern Ireland can continue to do so without putting their own lives on hold or their own health at risk. It is also calling for better recognition of carers within public services, including placing a legal duty on Health and Social Care Trusts to identify and promote carers’ health and wellbeing.
About Carers NI.
Carers NI is here to make life better for carers. Working as part of Carers UK:
- We give expert advice, information and support
- We connect carers so no-one has to care alone
- We campaign together for lasting change
- We innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers
For practical advice and information about caring, contact the Carers NI Advice line on 0289 043 9843 (10am-4pm, Monday-Thursday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carers NI provides advice, information, support and training to employers around the issue of caring and work. For further information contact: email@example.com
About this research
(This research was undertaken as part of the Sustainable Care: Connecting people and systems programme, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.)
Each year Carers UK holds Carers Rights Day to bring organisations across the UK together to help carers in their local community know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to.
Every day 6,000 people in the United Kingdom become carers, something few have been able to plan for. This Carers Rights Day we’re joining together with organisations across the UK to help carers in their local communities find their way.
Sustainable Care programme
The Sustainable Care: Connecting people and
systems research programme explores how care arrangements, currently ‘in
crisis’ in parts of the UK, can be made sustainable and deliver wellbeing
outcomes. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Led by
Professor Sue Yeandle at the University of Sheffield, Sustainable Care brings
together academics from eight universities, including the University of
Birmingham, and works with an extended network of national and international
policy, practice and academic partners.
(2016 data in the report ‘Home ownership and renting: demographics’ in the House of Commons library shows 61% of households in Northern Ireland are owner occupiers.) re Carers UK (2019) ‘State of Caring Report’.