Number Of Cancer Carers Soars

23 May 2016, 08:17

It's estimated the number of people caring for someone with cancer in Scotland is almost 125,000, compared to an estimated 83,000 in 2011.


This is according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Across the UK, family and friends are spending an average of 17.5 hours a week looking after a loved one with cancer, 2.5 hours more than in 2013. Shockingly, more than one in four of those surveyed in Scotland (27%) spend more than 35 hours a week, the same as a full time job, caring for someone with cancer.

The new YouGov survey results for the UK also reveal that cancer carers from as young as 17 to people in their 80s are having to take on more responsibility for the person they care for, with an increase in the types of support they provide. This can range from giving medication and changing dressings to taking care of finances, helping with going to the toilet and eating.

Worryingly, the research shows that almost half (47%) of carers in Scotland don't receive any support at all.

Macmillan is concerned about the growing pressure on cancer carers which could leave them with their own health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Elspeth Atkinson, Director for Scotland at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are going to see a continuing rise in the number of people caring for friends and family due to the increasing rate of people being diagnosed with cancer. It is therefore essential we have support in place for cancer carers so they can continue to look after loved ones without being overwhelmed or left to cope alone.

"Carers are often required to administer medicine so we need to make sure they're supported in this if needed. Caring also includes practical tasks and responsibilities such as organising regular trips to hospital, taking on housework like cooking, cleaning and shopping, and providing emotional support. All this in addition to working, maybe looking after children and trying to remain positive, means they are often under incredible physical and emotional strain that can put their own health at risk.

"Being a carer can be very stressful and it's essential that help and advice is there when it's needed so carers can continue to look after their family member or friend. That's why Macmillan is urging Scotland's new health and social care partnerships to commit to implementing the Scottish Government's plans for carers to be identified at the earliest possible opportunity and for each to be given a carer support plan if they request one."