The 2011 Census revealed that there are over 1.8 million carers aged 60 and over in England – almost 16% of the population in this age range. This includes a huge 20% of the population in the 60–64 age group, compared with 12.6 % of the overall population. The number of carers aged 85 and over grew by 128% in the last decade (Carers UK and Age UK, 2015).
This group is often invisible, with many older carers providing long hours of vital care and support while their own health and wellbeing deteriorates, resulting in poor physical and mental health, financial strain, and breakdown in their ability to carry on caring.
With an ageing population and increasing demand on health and social care services, supporting older carers better is a key way of keeping people at home, independent and healthy. It can also help to reduce unplanned hospital admissions and avoid premature admission to residential care.
What this toolkit aims to do
The toolkit Caring About Older Carers: Providing Support for People Caring Later in Life is targeted at commissioners of health and social care in England and aims to highlight the needs of carers aged over 60 and to show tried and tested ways they can be supported. It shines a spotlight on particular issues most likely to impact on older carers, influenced by factors such as their own life stage, who they are caring for, their circumstances and their own health. This can help inform commissioning to properly and most cost-effectively support them.
It will also help commissioners fulfil duties to prevent, reduce and delay needs and to support older carers under the Care Act 2014. It is important to remember that older carers are not a homogenous group. Every carer has specific and personal circumstances. The needs and wishes of each individual carer and responses to them will be unique but there are clear recurring issues which, through listening to the needs of older carers in your community and commissioning good quality services, can help older carers stay healthy, independent, and more able to maintain choice and control over their own lives.