1 Carers and the demand for care
The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 resulted in an unexpected and dramatic rise in the number of carers, with an additional 4.5 million people in the United Kingdom (UK) providing unpaid care, resulting in a total estimated at 13.6 million people (Carers UK, 2020a). Furthermore, 81% of those providing pre-pandemic unpaid care reported an increase in care responsibilities, with the majority unable to take breaks and citing negative impacts on their physical and mental health (Carers UK, 2020b).
Three in every five people in the UK will, at some point in their lives, become an unpaid carer (Carers UK, 2019a; Figure 1). It is important to remember that the carer population is not static (Carers UK, 2019b) and a growing number of people are now experiencing more than one period of care‐giving in their lifetime, e.g. caring for a parent and subsequently a spouse (Hirst, 2014).
Here you can see the increasing demand for the caring role, but what is it that these carers do? You will examine the role of the carer in the next section.