Carer Week 2024

The millions who selflessly provide care for their loved ones are the focus of a national campaign to raise awareness this month
There is no doubt that our needs change as we age - whether it's finding you need a little help with the garden to requiring more assistance generally in everyday life.

Perhaps you want someone to do your grocery shopping, or at least escort you to the supermarket. Or maybe you would like help cleaning your home. Your needs will become more complex as you age, and it's important to consider how best to meet them.

Perhaps you, or your husband or wife, have already downsized from the family home to a smaller house or apartment. But if you have the space, and a spare room, live-in care might be a good option.

This has become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years, with many agencies offering expert staff who have had thorough background checks. A live in carer for a couple costs about £1,700 a week, which can work out as comparable or more economical than a care home.

The Live-In Care Hub, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2013 to help people remain in their homes, says that 97% of people would rather live independently but are unsure about how to find the right support. Too many of them leave the decision until the last minute, when they might be in crisis.

Of course, many people are fortunate enough to have unpaid carers, either family members or friends. But they can experience difficulties themselves.

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness about carers and the challenges they face. Organised by Carers UK (, it recognises the contribution they make to families and communities and helps people who might not think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to access support.

The theme for Carers Week this year (10-16 June) is 'Putting carers on the map'. It aims to highlight the increasing pressure carers face and to campaign on their behalf.

They can face challenges with their finances, employment, health and wellbeing and Carers UK wants to ensure policymakers and politicians take steps to better support them.

A staggering 82% of carers surveyed by the charity said the impact of the work on their physical and mental health would be a challenge over the coming year, with nearly 60% adding that being valued as a carer would improve their wellbeing.

'We want carers to know they are not forgotten, and they are not alone,' says Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK. 'The dedicated, committed support unpaid carers provide day in day out has been valued as the equivalent of a second NHS, but often carers tell us that they feel unseen and undervalued. Many are at breaking point, facing challenges managing caring alongside their own health and wellbeing - with 78% of carers worried about being unable to care in the future.

'Recognition for carers in their communities and at national government level during an election year has never been more important, making Carers Week a vital opportunity to put them on the map.

'We all have a role to play in recognising and supporting carers in the community, whether it's by providing support to a member of your local community group or connecting with a family member or friend who is caring for someone.'

The campaign will be brought to life by thousands of individuals and organisations, who come together to provide support for carers, run activities, highlight the role carers play and draw attention to just how important caring is.

'This year's campaign is designed to make sure the voices of unpaid carers are heard by national and local politicians, employers, service providers, educational establishments, journalists and throughout our communities,' says Walker. 'We want caring to be made more visible, ensuring that carers feel seen and respected and that they can access the services and support they need.'

Each day will have a specific focus. On Monday 10 June the charity will launch its latest research; Tuesday will focus on health and social care, while on Wednesday the theme will be work and employment.

Thursday will concentrate on younger carers and the issues they face - they often have to juggle caring for others with looking after their own families. Friday will focus on older carers, while Saturday will be devoted to the mental health and wellbeing challenges that carers face.

There will be plenty of ways to get involved in the lead-up to Carers Week, or by participating in the hundreds of events and activities that will be promoted throughout the UK and online during the week itself.

It's important to recognise just how important carers are to our families and communities, and the multitude of services they provide.

A recent report by Age UK revealed that more than 850,000 hospital admissions a year among over-65s could have been avoided with better community care.

The report says that thousands of people are facing a crisis behind closed doors because of a lack of support, with the numbers receiving social care falling despite an ageing population. It urges reform and the abandonment of a 'hospital-orientated' approach.

In the past decade the number of people over 65 has risen by 1.9 million to 11 million. However, since 2017-18, 36,000 fewer older people are receiving longterm care from their local authority, a fall of about 6%.

This is putting pressure on unpaid carers - often spouses and family members - the charity says. A fifth of unpaid carers are 65 or over.

'There will be plenty of ways to get involved in the lead-up to Carers Week'

In 2021-22 there were 4.8 million Accident & Emergency attendances by older people, and the rate of attendances by the over-80s went up 40% between 2012-13 and 2021-22.

Of course, care homes still have a very important role in our society, and around 408,000 people across the UK currently live in one, according to recent statistics.

You may be facing a time when it is no longer practical, or even possible for you or your loved one's needs to be met in your own home.

The benefits of a care home, cited by many residents, are the sense of safety, companionship and peace of mind you experience. Organisations such as can offer advice and guidance about whether this is the right choice for you.

Care homes have specialised staff on duty 24 hours a day, so if you have a fall or need other medical care there is always someone to look after you. They can also be a solution to loneliness if you live by yourself, offering the opportunity to socialise with others on a daily basis.

It is also essential at this time of life that you have the right diet and nutrients, and a care home will carefully construct menus to provide the healthiest options.

Your living environment will always be clean, warm, tidy and comfortable - gone will be the days of doing the dishes or wielding the vacuum cleaner. Many care homes also provide specialist services for those who need higher levels of care. They are also very focused on trying to improve the quality of life for their residents - regularly hosting events and activities, including exercise classes.
Moving into a care home doesn't mean relinquishing your privacy. You will still have your own personal space to retire to whenever you choose, and you'll be encouraged to make it feel more like home. Some care homes will even allow well-behaved pets, though you may have to take charge of their food and exercise needs.

◆ You can find out more about Carers Week and how to get involved at
This feature first appeared in the June 2024 issue of The Lady magazine.