Carer-reported quality of life

According to the 2011 census, there are around 6.5 million carers in the UK providing unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members and friends (Carers UK, 2013). With an ageing population and people living longer with one or more chronic conditions, this number is expected to increase rapidly. The pressures of caring can have a negative impact on carers' physical and mental health, and can affect their finances and ability to work.

The Government implemented the Care Act 2014 which recognised carers in the law in the same way as those they care for. The Act gave local authorities the responsibility to assess a carer's need for support, and if eligible they are entitled to receive that support. This indicator gives an overarching view of the quality of life of carers based on responses to the Survey of Adult Carers in England.

How has carer-reported quality of life changed over time?

In 2010, the Next steps for the Carers Strategy set out aims for carers to have a life of their own alongside their caring role, for them to be supported so that they are not forced into financial hardship, and for them to be supported to stay mentally and physically well. To assess whether these outcomes are being met, we can look at carer-reported quality of life scores based on responses to the Survey of Adult Carers in England. For details on how this score is calculated please see 'about this data' below.

Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, average carer-reported quality of life scores decreased in all regions of the country. In England, quality of life scores decreased from 8.1 in 2012-13 to 7.7 in 2016-17. There is also regional variation in carer-reported quality of life scores. In 2016-17, the North East reported the highest quality of life scores (8.3) and the East Midlands reported the worst (7.5). Male carers had an average score of 7.9 in England, which is 0.3 points higher than females who scored 7.6 (data not shown).

Updated January 2018.

How does carer-reported quality of life vary by age group?

Nationally, carers aged 65 and over reported higher quality of life scores (8.0) than those aged 18-64 (7.4) in 2016-17. The extent of the difference in quality of life scores between the age categories varied across the country. In the Eastern region there was a 0.3 point difference, while in the East Midlands and North West there was a 0.7 point difference in score.

Updated January 2018.

About this data

The carer-reported quality of life score is a composite measure which combines individual responses to six questions, measuring different outcomes related to overall quality of life. The six questions, drawn from the Survey of Adult Carers in England, are:

- Which of the following statements best describes how you spend your time?

- Which of the following statements best describes how much control you have over your daily life?

- Thinking about how much time you have to look after yourself in terms of getting enough sleep or eating well – which statement best describes your present situation?

- Thinking about your personal safety, which of the statements best describes your present situation?

- Thinking about how much social contact you’ve had with people you like, which of the following statements best describes your social situation?

- Thinking about encouragement and support in your caring role, which of the following statements best describes your present situation?

Each of the questions has three possible answers, which are equated with having: no unmet needs, some needs met, and no needs met. A score of zero for a respondent would indicate a high level of need in each of the domains and a low quality of life score. Conversely, a (maximum) score of 12 would indicate no unmet needs and a high quality of life score.

Any respondents who failed to answer any of the six questions were excluded from the analysis. This measure forms section 1D of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework.

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