Unpaid Carers

Published: February 2024

Unpaid carers provide critical support for people with health and social care needs. The support provided by carers is often physically and emotionally demanding, with consequences for carers’ own health and wellbeing.

Headlines

  • 10.9% of the Wakefield population (aged 16+) are unpaid carers (Census 2021).
  • The percentage of people providing unpaid care has decreased locally and nationally over the last 20 years (Census 2001, 2011, 2021).
  • Wakefield has a higher percentage of residents providing 20+ hours of unpaid care per week, compared to the England average (Census 2021).
  • Those aged 50-64 years old (16.0%) are most likely to provide unpaid care. Females (12.6%) are more likely to provide unpaid care compared to males (9.1%) (Census 2021).
  • Overall, the health of unpaid carers was comparable to non-carers in Wakefield. However, those aged 18-64 (55.4%) were significantly less likely to be in good health than non-carers aged 18-64 (62.4%) (Wakefield Adult Population Health Survey 2023).
  • In Wakefield, unpaid carers (41.2%) were significantly more likely to be living with obesity than non-carers (35.7%). This was most apparent among those aged 18-64 (44.7%) and among females (45.7%) (Wakefield Adult Population Health Survey 2023).

How does Wakefield district compare nationally?

Census data

This section contains nationally published data from the Census.

Young carers (0-15)

  • 0.9% of Wakefield residents under 15 years of age provide unpaid care. This percentage has remained between 0.9 – 1.1% since 2001, and is comparable to the England average.
  • 69.2% of young carers provide 1-19 hours of care per week, and 30.8% of young carers provide 20+ hours of care per week.

Adult carers (16+)

  • The percentage of unpaid carers has decreased locally and nationally over the last 20 years.
  • The percentage of Wakefield residents (aged 16+) providing any unpaid care has been consistently higher than the England average.
  • The percentage of residents (aged 16+) providing unpaid care has decreased from 14.0% in 2001 to 10.9% in 2021. This is largely driven by the decrease in residents providing 1-19 hours of unpaid care per week.
  • Meanwhile, the percentage of residents (aged 16+) providing 20-49 hours, or 50+ hours, of unpaid care a week has increased from 1.8% to 2.4% for 20-49 hours, and 3.5% to 3.8% for 50+ hours.

The drop in unpaid carers in 2021 was unexpected. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has given the following potential explanations for changes in provision of unpaid care.

The interactive dashboard below can be used to explore the recent trend in Wakefield compared to the England average. Use the dropdowns at the top to filter by unpaid carer age groups and by the number of hours of unpaid care provided per week.

National Carers Survey data

Every 2 years, every council with Adult Social Care responsibilities are required by NHS England to conduct a Survey of Adult Carers. The survey seeks the opinions of carers aged 18 or over, caring for a person aged 18 or over, on a number of topics that are considered to be indicative of a balanced life alongside their unpaid caring role. The results of the 2021/22 survey, conducted by Wakefield Council, found that:

  • 26.5% of carers have as much social contact as they would like (less than regional average of 31.2%)
  • 37.3% of carers were satisfied with their care and support (similar to regional average of 37.7%)
  • 68.8% of carers felt consulted/involved in discussions (higher than regional average of 64.7%)
  • 63.5% of carers found it easy to find information about services (higher than regional average of 56.3%)

The full Wakefield survey results can be found here: Survey of Adult Carers 2021/22 (Wakefield Council) – opens in Canva
The national survey results can be found here: Survey of Adult Carers in England 2021/22 (NHS Digital)

What are the differences within Wakefield district?

Unpaid carer demographics

This section contains nationally published data from the 2021 Census.

  • 10.9% of Wakefield residents (aged 16+) are unpaid carers. 
  • Those aged 50-64 years old (16.0%) are most likely to provide unpaid care.
  • Females (12.6%) are more likely to provide unpaid care compared to males (9.1%).
  • The Kinsley Fitzwilliam Rycroft neighbourhood (13.0%) has the highest percentage of unpaid carers.
  • Those living in the most deprived areas (11.1%) are just as likely to provide unpaid care compared to those living in the least deprived areas (10.6%).

The interactive dashboard below can be used to explore the demographics of unpaid carers in Wakefield. Click on the buttons at the top to navigate between age, deprivation and sex.

Unpaid carer inequalities

Young Carers

According to the results of the Wakefield School Health Survey 2022:

  • Young carers were significantly more likely to feel lonely some or most of the time than non-carers.
  • Young carers were significantly worse than average across the diet and oral health questions.
  • Year 9 young carers were significantly more likely to have tried smoking, vaping and drugs than non-carers.

Adult Carers (18+)

This section contains analysis of the Wakefield Adult Population Health Survey 2023. Questionnaires were distributed during March and April 2023 and 3,450 responses were received. Of which, 523 (15.3%) respondents said they provided unpaid care. The analysis aims to highlight the impact of caring has on health and lifestyle by highlighting the differences in responses to survey questions between non-carers and unpaid carers. 

Health and physical activity

  • Overall, the health of unpaid carers was comparable to non-carers. However, those aged 18-64 (55.4%) were significantly less likely to be in good health than non-carers aged 18-64 (62.4%).
  • A similar percentage of unpaid carers (81.0%) and non-carers (82.5%) were considered to have good or high mental wellbeing
  • Unpaid carers (46.4%) were just as likely as non-carers (44.7%) to be doing the recommended amount of physical activity per week.
  • However, unpaid carers (41.2%) were significantly more likely to be living with obesity than non-carers (35.7%). This was most apparent among those aged 18-64 (44.7%) and among females (45.7%).

Long-term health conditions

  • Unpaid carers (13.9%) were significantly more likely to have a lot of problems accessing support for long term health conditions, than non-carers (8.7%). This was most apparent among those aged 18-64 and among females.
  • Unpaid carers living in the least deprived areas (18.6%) were significantly more likely to have not sought help in the last 12 months for their long term health conditions, than non-carers living in the least deprived areas (7.6%).

Other lifestyle factors

  • Internet access and confidence was better among older unpaid carers aged 65+ (49.0%) than non-carers aged 65+ (35.4%).
  • Unpaid carers (50.0%) were significantly more likely to have bad sleep quality compared to non-carers (37.6%). This was most apparent among those aged 18-64 (54.5%) and among females (54.9%).
  • As expected, unpaid carers (12.9%) were significantly more likely to be looking after family/home full-time than non-carers (3.5%). This was apparent among all population groups.

The interactive dashboard below can be used to explore the impact of caring on health and lifestyle. Use the buttons at the bottom to navigate the 3 different tabs. Each tab has a filters section at the top to explore different demographics and/or outcomes.
1. Carer/Non-Carer Comparison: shows the differences in survey responses between unpaid carers and non-carers.
2. Caring Experience: shows the personal experiences of providing unpaid care.

3. Cared For Ages: shows the age groups of those receiving unpaid care.

Further information

What support is available?