The dyadic wider impact of social care: support for older carers and the people they care for (The DYAD project)

Stacey Rand In progress  

Introduction

Support provided by family/friend carers is a vital part of care for people with dependency needs. Most carers are of working age. However, carers aged 65 years and older make up at least 20% of the seven million carers in the UK, and they are the fastest growing group of carers.

Like all carers, older carers may find some aspects of caring are rewarding and positive, but there is evidence that suggests they find it especially difficult to balance caring whilst maintaining their own wellbeing and quality of life, e.g. by staying connected with the local community and sustaining friendships. They are also more likely to have their own health problems. They are also more likely to be spouses or partners, provide care for many hours per week, and help with personal care, like washing and dressing. They are less likely to recognise themselves as carers or to seek support from others, including formal support from social care services.

The Care Act (2014) places a legal responsibility on local authorities to assess carers’ needs, meet any eligible needs for support, and promote carers’ wellbeing. Care practice has tended to identify carers’ needs separately (alongside and on an equal basis) to the people they support. However, this approach may not fully consider the complexity of caregiving relationships, especially caring for a spouse or partner and more intensive caregiving.

Objectives

This study seeks to understand the experiences of older carers and the people they care for – both individually and together. It will also look at the ways social care services may improve the quality of life for the carer, as well as the person being cared for. This work will identify the potential benefit(s) of having a wider view of the social care as supporting the person and their carer, as well as any challenges or barriers in achieving this. This will provide insights for policymaking, service development and commissioning (including of carers’ assessments).

Methods

Interviews will be conducted with adults using community-based social care (e.g. home care) supported by a carer living with them, aged 65 years or over. The carer and the person who is supported will both be interviewed separately.

Professionals who work in local authority social care departments and care/carers’ organisations, who support or work with the care recipient as well as the carer, will also be interviewed.