Coronavirus and the impact on caring

People across the UK have been pulling together during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in ways that are impacting across society but also changing responsibilities.

From making an extra meal, to buying essentials, almost half (48%) of people in the UK said that they provided help or support to someone outside of their household in the first month of lockdown in April 2020.

Although using a slightly different definition, this is a substantial increase since before the pandemic where just over 1 in 10 (11%) adults reported providing some regular service or help for a sick, disabled, or elderly person not living with them during 2017 to 2018.

In April, around one-third (32%) of adults who reported giving help or support, were helping someone who they did not help before the pandemic. One-third (33%) also reported giving more help to people they helped previously.

Shopping was the most common activity that people undertook as part of their caring responsibilities (85%).

Providing or cooking meals,

Assisting with online or internet access,

Dealing with personal affairs e.g. paying bills writing letters

Decorating gardening or house repairs

Washing Ironing or Cleaning

Giving lifts in your car if you have one

Looking after children

Helping with basic personal needs

Those who provided help and support more likely to feel they are playing a useful role

In a similar trend to the wider population, there has not been a significant increase in reported feelings of chronic loneliness among those that provide help and support to others. Around 1 in 12 (8%) providing help or support reported feeling lonely often or always, which is the same proportion as in 2017 to 2018.

During the first month of lockdown, around 1 in 6 (16%) of those who had provided help or support to others outside their home felt they played a useful role more so than usual, compared with just under 1 in 10 (9%) of those who had not. A higher proportion also reported that they enjoyed their day to day activities more so than usual compared with non-carers (11% and 8% respectively).

However, the proportion of those providing help and support that reported feeling constantly under strain and losing sleep more or much more than usual is significantly higher than that reported by those who were not. Although it should be noted that there may be many reasons for these feelings, and they may not be attributable to providing the help and support.