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Physical activity for health and wellbeing in the caring role
Physical activity for health and wellbeing in the caring role

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3 Who are the carers?

In Section 1, you saw how the number of carers in the UK is increasing. It is important to look more closely at the demographics of those who are caring in order to consider their health and wellbeing needs. Table 1 presents data from the Carers Week Research Report in 2020 that captured information of those who were caring before the COVID-19 pandemic and those who found themselves in this new role after the start of the outbreak.

Table 1 Demographics of unpaid carers (Carers UK, 2020a)
All unpaid carers Unpaid carers already providing unpaid care before the coronavirus outbreak Unpaid carers who have started caring since the start of the coronavirus outbreak
Female 58% 57% 59%
Male 42% 43% 41%
Working 53% 48% 62%
Parent or guardian for someone under 18 28% 25% 35%
Aged over 65 20% 23% 14%
Aged 55-64 21% 23% 17%
Aged 45-54 22% 22% 22%
Aged 35-44 17% 16% 21%
Aged 25-34 11% 9% 16%
Aged 18-24 8% 7% 10%
Source: Carers Week/ YouGov polling

You might be surprised to see that 53% of carers were working alongside their caring role. You will also note the clear gender gradient; with almost 60% of carers reported being female. Not only do a larger proportion of women provide care, but women provide more hours of care too: 45% of female carers provide 10 or more hours of care per week, compared to 40% of male carers (Petrie & Kirkup, 2018).

In 2018/2019, over 25% of female carers and over 40% of male carers were in full time employment, but a higher proportion of female carers were in part-time work (Figure 4). There was also over 20% of carers who were retired and those identified as ‘economically inactive’ (DWP, 2020).

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Figure 4 Adult carers employment status and gender (DWP, 2020)

While it is helpful to look at data and statistics to gain an understanding of the caring population, it is of greater importance that individual carer’s voices are heard, particularly to ensure that their health and wellbeing needs are met. You will do this in the next section.