Waiting lists for respite care in Surrey have grown by 50% during the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the county’s leading provider of specialist support.
Crossroads Care Surrey, based in Leatherhead, has seen a sharp rise in families seeking respite care in the past year since lockdown restrictions were first introduced to stem the spread of the virus. According to the charity’s figures, the number of those joining the waiting list for respite care support has increased significantly over this period, with hundreds of families now waiting for the provision of services to help unpaid carers get assistance.
In 2020, Crossroads Care Surrey helped more than 2,100 unpaid carers by regularly lending a hand with care to 1,654 loved ones so people who care could have a break and recharge both emotionally and physically. The demand for its services has surged during the pandemic, as demands on carers has increased. It is estimated there are more than 119,000 unpaid carers in Surrey.
Terry Hawkins, Crossroads Care Surrey’s CEO, said: “This is an alarming and worrying situation. Our waiting list continues to grow. We are doing everything we can to help as many unpaid carers get the respite support, they deserve and need, as we possibly can. But the numbers do not lie; demand is soaring and providers such as Crossroads Care Surrey simply do not have the funding to support all those who are desperate for our help.
“Central government needs to seriously consider the work of unpaid carers and the significant saving they provide to the economy and invest accordingly. Our funding has not increased over the past four years, but the number of unpaid carers – especially over the past year – has grown significantly and continues to grow. We want to help – but we need help.”
Hawkins called for a range of measures to be introduced to help address the situation:
- A greater emphasis on – and appreciation of – the role of unpaid carers in society;
- More funding to help unpaid carers, alongside the support being made available to the NHS and wider healthcare community; and
- Active support for employers to help employees with caring responsibilities.
Without these being implemented quickly, Hawkins fears waiting lists will continue to grow and families will face additional challenges, on top of those they already deal with.
“Respite support for unpaid carers is not an option; it’s a necessity. As a caring society, we owe it to them and their families to make the best possible range of services available when they need it,” Hawkins added.