What do carers need?

We interviewed 44 unpaid/family carers over the phone. We asked them what extra support would make the biggest difference to their lives.
Smiling middle aged woman caring for her mother

Islington Council are reviewing the services provided to unpaid carers. To complement this work we spoke to local carers about their experiences, and about the services they use. Most of the carers we spoke to were already receiving help of some kind, either from family, from the council or the GP, or local charities. Most carers described this support as being ‘reliable’. Often support was in the form of someone to talk to. That someone might be friends and family, a community organisation, or a counsellor.

What else would help?

  • People highlighted how lockdown had made things more difficult as there was less access to the usual kind of activities that benefit both the cared-for person and the carer. There was a strong desire for more social and well-being activities as soon as things re-open.
  • Respite care - having someone to look after the cared-for person to give the carer a little break. This respite care could either be full-time so the carer could take a holiday or a couple of hours a week regularly.
  • Knowing where to go to ask for help
  • The council could be more mindful of requests for repairs being made by tenants who are sole carers.
  • Vaccination against Covid (we advised on this)
  • Carers who lived apart from the cared-for person said it would help to live nearer.
  • Carers living in crowded conditions told us they needed more space.
  • Easier access to repeat prescriptions
  • Interpreting - particularly if family members who speak English aren’t available to take the cared-for person to appointments
  • More mental health support
Is there anything else that would help? Some ongoing mental health support for my daughter as she has been very depressed and traumatised during lockdown. The GP was helpful in arranging some mental health support from a psychologist but she will need more support for the immediate future as she has been badly affected by the restrictions of lockdown.
— Family carer from the Greek Cypriot community

What are the characteristics of the support that best meets your needs?

  • The carers we spoke to valued services that were holistic (could support them with a range of needs) and were welcoming and kind.
  • They also valued drop-in support because it meant they didn't have to wait a long time if they needed to talk about a problem or ask for help.
  • Responsive services that kept them updated on their queries and keep chasing for a solution.
  • Being able to speak to someone in your first language (who can support you with interpreting too if needed) was appreciated.
  • Welfare calls to check on people were also appreciated.

Read the report

We also spoke to carers about their experiences of health services during the pandemic and asked them to rate how satisfied they were with various aspects of their lives.

Read the report