Carers – The forgotten members

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2018 National Women's Conference
21 September 2017
Carried as Amended

1 in 8 adults or 6.5 million people in the UK are carers according to carers UK with this figure set to rise to 9 million by 2037. Every day 6,000 people take on a caring role and 58% of the careers are women. In 2011, females were more likely to be unpaid carers than males. It has also been found that the general health of unpaid carers deteriorated incrementally with increasing levels of unpaid care provided up to the age of 65.

The Office of National Statistics analysis shows that the share of unpaid care provision fell most heavily on women aged 50 – 64. During 2011, 81,812 women in England were in full time employment while providing 50 hours or more unpaid care and in Wales the figures were 5,068 respectively. These figures are taken from the last census held by the Office of National Statistics.

Becoming a carer for family or friends can have a considerable effect on the lives of those who take on this role. While medical professionals and family members focus all their attention on the person who is ill, the carer can become the one in the shadows. Depending on the support needs of the cared for person, caring can be hard physical work, involving lifting, cleaning, personal care and distrusted sleep.

While there are some services out there to support women carers, Unison currently has no provision in place to help support our women members who are also caring for loved ones. Laws and legislation quite rightly protect the rights of citizens with disabilities and caring needs, but the laws in place do not go far enough to protect those women who are carers. Many women who both work and care for loved ones face issues regarding time off to attend hospital appointments or require emergency leave and if granted will usually be unpaid. This further impacts women on low pay as they struggle to make ends meet. Protecting the rights of carers is vital to both the carers themselves and the people they care for; they have a role to play in shaping legislation for carers and for people with disabilities as the carers are also impacted by the constraints.

Conference calls on national women’s committee to

1)Work with Labour Link to highlight the plight of women carers with local MPs and at national level to seek ways to improve their rights as carers.

2. Work with the national executive committee and the national disabled members committee to look at the possibility of setting up a carer’s network both regionally and nationally or allow carers to become active in the disability network.