Family carers 'at breaking point'


Jo Whiley at Mencap event

The majority of people who care for disabled family members have reached "breaking point", a charity has warned.

Mencap said that eight in 10 people who care for loved ones with a learning disability feel they do not get the respite or support they need.

Despite the Government allocating funds for carers to have short breaks from their caring responsibilities, the money was not ring-fenced and is being spent elsewhere, the learning disability charity said.

Half the councils across England have cut short break services so carers are not getting any time to themselves, the charity's report Short Breaks states.

The report claims that 80% of family carers did not receive any short breaks whatsoever in the last year. The charity is urging ministers to ring-fence the money intended for short breaks.

Emma Harrison, assistant director at Mencap, said: "We are humbled by the love and care that so many families give their loved ones, but they are only human. Without the lifeline of temporary outside care that they can trust, families told us that their physical and mental health is being put at risk.

"Family carers simply need a break, is that too much to ask? Yet these services continue to be heavily cut at a local level.

"The Government must commit to ring-fencing funding for short breaks and show its support - gratitude, even - to these families."

DJ and Mencap ambassador Jo Whiley (pictured) added: "My mum and dad support my sister, Frances, full time. She's in her 40s now. We love her dearly, but I watch my parents deal with sleepless nights, unpredictable behaviour, tantrums - and it's gruelling.

"I don't think people realise just how tough it is, it's really hard work. It's absolutely heartbreaking to see families at breaking point because they're not getting the short breaks, or respite support, that they so desperately need."

© 2013 Press Association