28 October 2014
Nine in ten (89%) health professionals who regularly deal with cancer patients agree friends and family caring for someone with cancer often neglect their own health, according to a new report launched today by Macmillan Cancer Support1.
A survey of 300 oncologists, oncology nurses and GPs reveals almost nine in ten (87%) also agree that caring for someone with cancer can have a detrimental effect on a carer’s mental and physical health whilst 85% believe a lack of support is the main reason carers reach breaking point and are forced to stop caring.
The figures are highlighted in Macmillan’s new report, Do You Care? which calls on the Government to prioritise the identification of carers in the NHS in England.
Across the UK, an estimated 1.1 million people currently care for someone with cancer, with one in ten cancer carers (10%) – or an estimated 108,000 – providing 50 hours or more of care a week2. As well as emotional support, many cancer carers have to perform healthcare tasks such as controlling pain, giving injections and providing personal care.
Yet half of all cancer carers receive no support at all and only five per cent have had a carers’ assessment which gives them access to statutory help such as Carers’ Allowance and respite breaks2.
Emma Butler-Smith, from Suffolk, cared for her mother, Anne Smith. Anne was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, and died in September 2013. Emma says:
“I wasn’t identified as a carer or offered a carers assessment. I think because I seemed confident and went into meetings with a long list of questions and a notebook to carefully write everything down, people thought I was in control. I didn’t really see myself as a carer so didn’t try to access any support that might be available to carers.”
The report follows statutory guidance, published in the 2014 Care Act last week, which requires the NHS and local authorities in England to work together to identify carers from April 2015.
Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services and Influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“As someone who once was a carer, looking after my partner when he had cancer, I know the pressure that carers face. Dealing with the practical and emotional demands of looking after a loved one, while doing my best to remain positive and hold things together left little time to focus on my wellbeing.
“We urgently need to do more to recognise the tireless effort of over a million cancer carers in the UK and provide them with the support they need and deserve. Most carers in Great Britain simply don’t come into contact with non-NHS services, such as social care, that could help. That’s why it’s essential health and social care professionals play a key role in recognising when a person may be caring for someone with cancer and offer help.
“Alongside our report, we are also launching practical guidance to support health professionals to spot and support cancer carers. Together, we can ensure every person caring for someone with cancer is properly supported, so that no one faces cancer alone.”
For more information on Macmillan’s Do you care? report visit www.macmillan.org.uk/doyoucarereport.
If you’re caring for someone with cancer and need information or support, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/carers
For further information, please contact:
Emma Guise, Head of Media, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 7821 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
Survey results based onMacmillan Cancer Support/ICM online poll of 300 UK oncologists, oncology nurses and GPs. Fieldwork conducted December 2013. Survey results are unweighted.
Macmillan Cancer Support/Ipsos MORI. More than a Million: Understanding the UK’s carers of people with cancer. 2012. Report available here
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk