Unpaid carers were the unsung heroes of the pandemic. As many support services shut down, most saw a huge increase in the care they needed to provide to a loved with a disability, chronic illness or addiction. 

This year, we worked with JH Research to explore carers' experiences during the pandemic. The research shows that 75% of the people who were receiving a break from caring through the Carer Relief Service had to suspend their support to minimise Covid-19 infection risks. This coincided with the reduction or closure of other local services that would normally have helped them to receive a break.

This was often detrimental to carers' physical and mental health, well-being and quality of life, with many having to support a loved one 24/7.

The research shows that, where carers did receive a Carer Relief Service, they experienced better mental and physical health and quality of life, reduced isolation, and were able to remain in employment and access Covid-19 vaccines. It also suggests that people receiving this support are more likely to be able to provide care for longer, reducing or delaying the need for statutory or residential care.

You can read the report  here

Many of us were personally affected by the pandemic and shared in the worry, loss and isolation of those who come to us for support. We know that each carer has a unique story, and these stories might never be heard by those who could make a difference to their lives. We wanted to know what happened when we couldn’t be with our carers and, in these extraordinary circumstances, how we were able to help.

Pauline Steele, Chief Executive Officer, Carers Trust Tyne and Wear

Alan’s Story (name anonymised)
Alan is in his 70s. He cares for his daughter Sarah, who is in her 50s and has very complex care needs including epilepsy, sleep apnoea, a weak chest, and osteoporosis. She requires peg feeding and does not talk. He receives two four-hour visits from the Carer Relief Service each week. Sarah does not receive care from any other services.

We stopped receiving the Carer Relief Service at times when covid became very intense. A consultant said in the early days that if Sarah got covid she’d die from it because of her chest condition. We thinned it out, we would miss two or three weeks at a time. Carers Trust Tyne and Wear were very flexible. If we were concerned, we would say, not this week next week. We started regularly again in early 2022.
Life stopped. Everything Being able to go out and do normal things had to be curtailed because of Sarah’s health. We couldn’t risk it. It was very difficult; it still is at the moment. My stress and anxiety went through the roof. It’s still difficult because covid hasn’t gone away, it’s a great risk. We have to be very conscious of anything we do that puts a risk of covid getting into the house. It curtails our normal activities.
The only time I really get out is when Carers Trust Tyne and Wear are here to look after Sarah. It means I’m not stuck in the house; I can get out and do what I have to do. It means you get out and see other people. Without them I wouldn’t have any quality of life. I would be just tied to the house. I wouldn’t have any real outside life at all, because she needs 24-hour care, and someone has to be with her at all times.

The Carer Relief Service provides replacement care, so that unpaid carers living in Gateshead are able to access a much-needed break. Trained Carer Support Workers come into the home and take over almost any role that the unpaid carer would normally carry out, such as practical tasks in the house, intimate personal care, administering medication or taking the person with a disability out into the community. Unlike typical domiciliary care services, it is built around the needs of the unpaid carer and provides a break so they can get out of the house, spend time with others, maintain employment, access medical appointments such as vaccinations, or simply rest. 

Click here  to find out how to receive a Carer Relief Service.

Unlike many care jobs, we're not just in and out of people's homes and rushing to the next appointment. We take the time to build relationships with the families we support and our service is designed to give the carer a meaningful break while their loved one is looked after with care, dignity and respect. 

Have you got the skills, care and compassion needed to support carers? If so,  click here  to find out about how to become a Carer Support Worker.