Half of Norfolk carers suffer from chronic ill health, survey finds

File photo of the hands of an elderly person. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

File photo of the hands of an elderly person. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A survey of carers in Norfolk has shown more than half suffer themselves from a chronic physical or mental health condition as calls are being made to give them more support.

Alex Stewart of Healthwatch Norfolk. Photo: Healthwatch Norfolk

Alex Stewart of Healthwatch Norfolk. Photo: Healthwatch Norfolk - Credit: Healthwatch Norfolk

A survey by Carers Council for Norfolk and Healthwatch Norfolk, the independent representatives for carers and patients in Norfolk, collected in-depth feedback from over 300 local carers.

The report showed a higher than average prevalence of long term ill health among Norfolk carers, with 55pc of the sample reporting a chronic condition.

Carers UK estimate there are currently almost 100,000 carers in Norfolk whose unpaid work contributes around £1.6bn in savings to local services every year.

The joint report from Healthwatch Norfolk and Carers Council for Norfolk says: 'Today's health and care system is struggling to overcome unprecedented challenges. An aging and increasingly unhealthy population is placing statutory services under immense pressure with more people in need of support than ever before. At the same time, real-term funding for health and care is at an historic low. Cuts to local authority budgets have been particularly severe, and, as formal social care services continue to decline, the burden of care falls more and more upon unpaid carers.'

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In their responses local carers said they felt they were being left to struggle alone. Only 37pc said they felt able to manage their health and wellbeing, with many local carers unaware of where to go for information and support.

A new carer-led service, Carers Matter Norfolk, has been developed in response to the findings from the survey.

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Sharon Brooks, Chair of Carers Council for Norfolk, who co-produced the report, said: 'Our previous research showed that carers were concerned about the lack of information and support that was available to them.

'This latest study details exactly what local carers want and need, in their own words and it is our job to ensure their needs are met.'

Alex Stewart, CEO of Healthwatch Norfolk added: 'Healthwatch Norfolk is very grateful to all the local carers who took time to take part in this survey. We cannot improve services without their feedback and we will continue to work with Carers Council for Norfolk, Carers Matter Norfolk and other stakeholders to champion the needs of carers across Norfolk.'

The full report is available at healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk

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