We all strive for a happy and fulfilling life – and we should all have the support we need to live one. But some people need extra care or support – practical or emotional – to do the everyday things that many of us take for granted.
That’s where social care fits in – providing a safety net to those who need it and empowering people of all ages, with a range of conditions and needs, to live with opportunity, independence and control.
But the service is at risk like never before. With rising demand and insufficient funding, social care is at crisis point, propped up by millions of family carers who give up their time for free to look after loved ones in need.
Data analysis by the Social Market Foundation, an independent think tank, shows that there are now 7.6 million people caring for an elderly relative, a partner or a sick or disabled child – with the number spending 20 hours or more providing care up by 4% between 2005 and 2015.
One of the first casualties of this compassion is the loss of career progression – and it is often women who take the step to reduce their hours or are driven out of their professional careers.
At Gotelee, we see a disproportionate number of women who are the main carer for both children and their own parents, many of whom have sacrificed their vocations as a result.
According to the Social Market Foundation’s research, more than half (59%) of those providing care for an elderly relative are women. Of those providing care to a sick or disabled child, nearly two-thirds are women.
“More women with professional and managerial jobs are trying to combine work with family care,” said Kathryn Petrie, an economist at the Social Market Foundation.
“We know that carers are often driven to reduce their hours or leave work altogether, and without proper support for these carers, there is a risk that women are increasingly driven out of professional careers, reversing recent progress towards equality in the workforce.”
Charities have warned that carers are losing out in terms of work, finances and health, and they are calling on the Government to invest in the care system rather than relying on good-hearted individuals to prop it up.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the care system requires a significant injection of funding: “It would be dangerously complacent for policymakers to assume there is an infinite supply of wonderful people able and willing to provide informal care for their loved ones.”
The Social Market Foundation report found that family carers provide 149 million hours of care each week, equal to the work of four million full-time caregivers.
The think tank analysis, sponsored by Age UK, comes as ministers prepare to publish a green paper on social care in the autumn. The report makes a number of recommendations for the green paper, including the suggestion that employees should record the number of their staff who have caring responsibilities.
What is clear is that proper consideration must be given to the findings of this report – and the millions of women who are sacrificing their own vocations to help care for a loved one.
How can Gotelee help?
As a multi-service Law Firm, Gotelee can offer a holistic approach to these issues from both our Private Client and Employment team. Ensuring that clients have LPAs in place is a crucial first step in managing potentially stressful scenarios. Our Wills and Probate team offer home visits to clients to best work around their time and commitments and can also signpost carers to other organisations who can offer support for the carer and elderly or disabled relative.
To find out how we can help you, call us on 01394 388605 or visit us at one of our offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Hadleigh.