Weekly Poll – Social Care (Week Beginning 17 August 2020)
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 17 August 2020, we asked a question about social care.
Question 1. Do you receive social care support?
- YES – 37% (114 respondents)
- NO – 63% (198 respondents)
Question 2. If yes, did your social care support change during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- YES – 93% (111 respondents)
- NO – 7% (8 respondents)
Question 3. Is there enough support in place for carers and people receiving care during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- YES – 1% (4 respondents)
- NO – 99% (306 respondents)
Most disabled people had their social care package change during the pandemic (93%) and an overwhelming majority of respondents believed there is not enough support in place for people receiving care (99%). Disabled people identified the following main themes and key concerns. We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
A number of respondents had their care package stopped when lockdown measures were first introduced in March 2020. As a result, many people are taking on more unpaid caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and who need support.
“I’m still having to manage my husband’s care on my own and without any help. Disabled people and unpaid carers were totally forgotten about during lockdown while we protected our loved ones who were shielding.”
“My care has been cut so my husband has to do it. He is 76. It’s a disgrace”
The additional caring responsibilities is having an adverse effect on the mental wellbeing of unpaid carers and people receiving care. Respondents also highlighted the lack of wellbeing support and opportunities for respite.
“I have been the only one providing care for my husband since lockdown and when his care package stopped. I am absolutely shattered and at breaking point.”
“This time has been physically and emotionally draining. Carer stress and anxiety levels have increased dramatically affecting carers mental wellbeing.”
“I’m an unpaid carer and I’m knackered. I can’t go on much longer and need help, but no one is doing anything other than saying there will be a review. We need immediate solutions not another review.”
“My wife provides my care and doesn’t get enough support for respite.”
Many unpaid carers were forced to give up their employment or accept reduced hours in order to care for family members. A lack of financial support is creating hardship for disabled people.
“Disabled people and their carers are being dragged into poverty and this needs to be addressed urgently.”
“My partner is exhausted because my care support has been cut back and she has had to drop hours at work to care for me. This has had financial implications and she probably won’t get her hours increased once my care has been reinstated.”
“I am a carer and since lockdown I have had to give up work to care for my partner as their care package was withdrawn and there was no other option. I now have no income and have to reply on my partner to pay the bills which is soul destroying as I always had financial security before I had to leave my job to become an unpaid carer.”
Some respondents suggested that carers need greater financial support through an increase to Carers Allowance or by looking at alternatives, such as Universal Basic Income.
“I care for my partner and because we live together, I only get carers allowance. It is not enough to live on. I cannot work because of the care he needs so I have no option but to be financially dependent on my partner. I feel this has stripped me of my self-respect and dignity.”
“Increase carers allowance or introduce universal basic income and give unpaid carers back their dignity.”
Respondents were unsure when care packages would be reinstated and there was a call for greater communication between care providers and disabled people.
“I need my care plan and support back up and running, but so far this has not happened.”
“There is a lack of information and this tested unpaid carers resilience and tenacity.”
The majority of disabled people believe there is a lack of support in place for carers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disabled people are relying on family and friends to provide unpaid care, which is leading to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Respondents also highlighted a lack of financial support that is in place, with many family members having to give up their employment to take on extra caring responsibilities. Greater support through carers allowance and more information on when care packages would be reinstated were identified as priority areas for change.