A blog entry by Dr Kelly Davidge, Sustainable Care Programme Manager

One of the key objectives of the Sustainable Care programme is ‘to improve the quality, availability and utility of UK data on care’. Drs Yanan Zhang and Matt Bennett, our Modelling Care System Costs and Contributions team, have worked with Carers UK to produce a new analysis of the British Household Panel Survey and the longitudinal household panel study Understanding Society. Their report, Will I Care? The likelihood of being a carer in adult life, is released today to mark Carers Rights Day 2019.

This new analysis for the period 1991-2018 is a powerful reminder of the significance of caring in the UK. People in the UK have a 65% chance of providing care at some point in their adult life. Half of women in the UK have been a carer by the age of 46 and half of men by age 57. Most carers are middle-aged, and those who work and care do so across the workforce. Sustainable Care PhD student Camille Allard has written about Care Leave on our blog; our work and care team hopes to provide evidence that legislation supporting working carers will have benefits for both businesses and employees- allowing working carers the time they need to care, without forcing them to make the choice between “to work or to care”.

Our work for the new report also shows that caring patterns change across the life course: caring peaks at around aged 60, drops slightly for those in their 60s and 70s and rises again at about age 80. Carers are less likely to care intensely (for over 50 hours per week) if aged between 15 and 45, and more likely to care if aged 45 and over. Our team members based in the Research on Aging, Policies, and Practices group at the University of Alberta in Canada have recently analysed data from Canada’s General Social Survey (GSS). Their report, Beyond “Snapshots” to “Lifetimes” of Family Care, highlights a number of commonly experienced lifetime “pathways” of care and shows how care can evolve across the life course, and in diverse ways, for individuals.

Sustainable Care PI Professor Sue Yeandle hopes that ‘these new data will also contribute to achieving progress for carers, who, across the UK, urgently need better services and more support to manage work and care’. Her recent interview with the Social Market Foundation can be viewed here. Our researchers are working to advance understanding of how wellbeing outcomes can be achieved for care users, their families, carers and paid care workers; this innovative analysis of existing data further emphasises how important and timely their work is.

Kelly Davidge

Read the full report here

Modelling care system costs and contributions

Data for a sustainable care and wellbeing strategy

Click an image to go to the SC research pages mentioned in this blog

Combining work and care

How do workplace support and technologies contribute to sustainable care arrangements?

Comparing UK care systems

Prospects, development and differentiation in the four UK nations

More on our blog