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What are the unmet mental health needs of paid and unpaid carers?

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What are the unmet mental health needs of paid and unpaid carers?

Dr Clarissa Giebel, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool & NIHR ARC NWC

In this blog I introduce a new study exploring the unmet mental health needs of paid and unpaid carers.

Paid and unpaid carers caring for people with dementia or older adults don’t seem to receive enough support. Most carers had reported unmet needs before the pandemic, but the pandemic seems to have only increased carers’ needs. What we don’t know yet fully is how paid, and unpaid, carers can access mental health support, and how much they need this since COVID-19. What’s more, what are some of the inequalities that carers are facing when trying to access care, if they do at all? We are currently conducting an NIHR-funded study, and are particularly keen to talk to care home and paid home care staff about their experiences.

Dr Clarissa Giebel, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool & NIHR ARC NWC

Tuesday 23rd August 2022

We know that the pandemic has only exacerbated the lack of support and care carers are receiving themselves. Paid carers working in care homes and home care, looking after people with dementia and older adults, often fail to receive enough support and training, as well as pay and recognition, to care for these vulnerable populations.

Impact of the pandemic on carers’ mental health

Whilst we have an understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on carer well-being and caring duties and roles during the pandemic, we need a thorough understanding about the needs of carers now. Our COVID-19 research into safe care home visitation for example has shown the severe emotional impacts of lack of visitation rights and work changes and demands for family carers, care home residents, and care home staff. There are likely going to be long-term impacts, with people cared for having passed away. What’s more, we are at a unique point in time now, emerging from the pandemic with the knowledge of its impact on the wider social care sector, to now make that change and truly implement the right care for those who are caring for someone they know personally, or someone they care for professionally.

Our study

To develop targeted support for carers’ mental health and well-being, we are currently conducting an NIHR and University of Liverpool funded study to understand the unmet mental health needs of paid and unpaid carers for older adults and people with dementia. This involves three parts: First, we are remotely interviewing up to 30 unpaid and up to 30 paid carers about their experiences of mental health and receiving support. Second, we are conducting focus groups with care managers and clinicians about their experiences of mental health needs of paid and unpaid carers, what support they provide, and how they believe mental health support may be improved. Third, we will hold three co-production workshops (one with each group of carers) to develop a targeted mental health support intervention for carers.

At the moment, we are looking to speak to paid home care and care home staff from across England, remotely. We want to hear about their experiences of their mental health and well-being needs and whether they receive any support or know where to look for it. This is of course all anonymous, so no one will know who participated in the study, and participants can speak freely about their good, or bad, experiences.

It is really important for us to understand those needs in depth, so that we can develop a targeted intervention to support paid, and unpaid, carers’ mental health needs.

To take part or find out more

If you are working in a care home or in the home care sector, and wish to take part, please drop me an email (