New research says many carers have reached ‘breaking point’

Carers are “pushed to the brink,”

First published 01:35 Thursday 11 September 2014 in Bradford Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by Rob Lowson, T&A Reporter

MANY people acting as carers for older or disabled loved ones have reached “breaking point”, new research has revealed.

A study of more than 5,000 carers by the charity Carers UK has found that six out of ten are being “pushed to the brink,” with a quarter requiring some form of medical treatment due to their role, 63 per cent suffering from depression, and 79 per cent from some form of anxiety.

A Bradford carers’ charity said it has experienced people accessing its services suffering from similar health issues, while a leading councillor claimed the district was “sitting on a timebomb” in terms of the problem.

But Bradford Council said more money was now being spent on supporting the needs of carers than last year.

Nearly 11,000 carers across the Bradford district are registered with the Carers’ Resource in Shipley, although the charity believes there are actually around 50,000 carers across the district, with many not realising they are performing such a role.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is finding the ‘hidden carers’, people who do not recognise what they are doing is caring, and therefore do not seek help until they actually reach breaking point,” said Stella Elson, service manager at Carers’ Resource.

“Carers have come to us suffering from depression, anxiety and a whole host of other issues. This can all have a major impact on their health and wellbeing, as well as their capacity to care.

“Caring can be a very isolating role because of the sheer demands it puts on carers’ time and energy, but if we can get carers into a support network like ours, we can begin to unpick their problems and find them the support they need.”

The charity, which provides social groups and activities, mentoring workshops, and support with benefits checks and financial issues, said it is now working more closely with GP practices and integrated care teams to try and reach out to carers at an earlier stage, at the time when they actually become a carer and take on the responsibility.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, Liberal Democrat group leader on Bradford Council, said she was “not surprised” by the results of the survey.

“The council have cut support to people in their own homes, which has pushed more responsibility onto families,” she said.

“This will lead to a crisis where these carers will then require care themselves, and Bradford is sitting on a timebomb.

“The council can find money for festivals and to do up buildings, but not for this support, which is needed to relieve the pressure on carers.”

Lyn Sowray, assistant director of operations for adult and community services at Bradford Council, which works with Carers’ Resource, countered by saying: “We are committed to assessing carers’ needs and supporting them, as we are aware that without them, society couldn’t manage.

“We have not reduced funding to actively support carers, if anything it has increased, and will do so again next year.”

For more information on the support offered by Carers’ Resource, visit