Home care is bad for the health of the carer: report
Home carers who also hold down a paid job are seeing their own health deteriorate, according to research from the government’s socio-cultural planning agency SCP.
The SCP looked at how often home carers in paid work were off sick and compared it with the period before they took on the home care. Before caring for a family member, 10 percent of them took two weeks off sick in a year. After taking on home care, the figure rose to 18 percent.
Another finding is that more working people are taking on home care, although in half of cases this amounts to two hours a week. In 2004, 13 percent of working people were involved in home care. By 2012, the figure had risen to 18 percent, most of them women between 45 and 65 years old and working 28 hours a week or less.
Most home carers take the time from their free hours rather than shortening their working hours, the SCP says. However, if they continue giving care for more than two years, this affects their own health and increases their number of days off sick.
The government is keen for the old and sick to remain in their own homes as long as possible because professional care is expensive. It introduced the concept of a ‘participation society’, in which people are encouraged to look for home care from their family, friends and neighbours. But, according to the SCP report, the ‘participation society’ is having a detrimental effect on paid work. The SCP is now investigating the motives for home care and whether the old and sick are happy with this informal help. A further report on the subject is due at the end of April.