Carers play an important role in society and have particular challenges that they have to overcome. An enormous amount of personal and community care is provided by family and friends, and social care and health services should be seen in this context. Estimates of how much the equivalent cost of this informal support would be if carers’ input had to be replaced run as high as £87 billion per year, which is nearly as much as total spending on the NHS.

Where services are needed to support people with illnesses, disabilities or addictions, the needs of informal carers should not be neglected, as they are closely linked, and often have a very important bearing on the effectiveness of the interventions for the cared for person.

The pressures on carers are such that that over time the effect on their health, social and financial wellbeing can be significant. Carers need support to continue to care – otherwise care can break down, with considerable cost to the individuals and to the health and care system.

In Knowsley, the highest proportion of unpaid carers (11.3%) is women aged 50 to 64 providing 1 to 19 hours of unpaid care per week. This is equates to 11.3% of female unpaid carers.

Overall, more women provide 50 or more hours in unpaid care with 3,443 women and 2,442 men respectively. However, men aged 65 and over have the highest proportion of 50 or more hours on unpaid care per week with 56.7%. However, this is equivalent to 982 men, which is marginally lower than the corresponding number of women of the same age with 993.

Knowsley has a higher number of young carers aged 0-24 (10% locally compared to 7.5% nationally). Recent calculations nationally suggest that the number of young carers is likely to be 4 times more than reported in the census, which would put Knowsley’s figure closer to 1400.

In Knowsley, 3,554 people who provide unpaid care were aged 65 and over, which equates to 19.9% of all unpaid carers. This is lower than both the regional figure of 21.4% and the national figure of 22%. It can be assumed that those aged over 65 are likely to need some additional support from the Council to support them in their caring role.

The full JSNA report can be read here: Adult and Young Carers JSNA