Health and Care Experience Survey 2015/16 - National Results

Results from the 2015/16 Health and Care Experience Survey.

12 Experiences of Carers


  • As described in Chapter 11, many people who need help for everyday living receive their support from friends and family not from formal services. The survey indicated that 15 per cent of respondents look after or provide regular help or support to others.
  • Carers were most positive about having a good balance between caring and other activities, with around two thirds agreeing that they did.
  • Carers were least positive about the impact of caring on their health; 35 per cent of people indicated that caring had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
  • Just over 40 per cent of people felt that services were well co-ordinated and that they felt supported to continue caring.
  • There was considerable variation across Scotland for all of these statements, but particularly around the co-ordination of services and support for caring.


12.1 The contribution of carers in looking after people, including some of the most vulnerable in society, is widely recognised. Many people who get help and support for everyday living receive it from friends and family instead of, or in addition to, formal services: the survey indicates that 43 per cent of people who received help did so out with formal services.

12.2 Chapter 4 of this report describes a vision in which people who provide unpaid care are supported to reduce the potential impact of their caring role on their own health and wellbeing. This vision is being delivered now but will be given further impetus through the implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. Alongside other Scottish Government and partners' policy commitments and initiatives, this aims to support carers in their roles.

Characteristics of carers

12.3 The survey asked respondents whether they had carried out any regular unpaid caring responsibilities for family members, friends, neighbours or others because of either a long-term physical /mental health/ disability or problem relating to old age.

12.4 Fifteen per cent of respondents indicated that they look after or provide regular help or support to others. The recent Scotland's Carers publication [22] describes in some detail the latest data from a variety of sources to show the diverse profile of carers in Scotland. It identifies the Scottish Health Survey as the current preferred source for estimating unpaid caring prevalence, which reports that 17 per cent of Scotland's population have caring responsibilities.

12.5 The age and gender distribution of carers who responded to the survey is shown in Table 12. It is broadly the same as reported in the 2013/14 survey, although there was a slightly higher proportion of carers aged over 65 year old in 2015/16 and correspondingly fewer 35 to 49 year olds (35 per cent of carers were aged over 65 in 2015 compared to 33 per cent in 2013/14).

Table 12: Characteristics of carers: age and gender

Age Male Female All adults
17 - 34 1% 4% 6%
35 - 49 4% 11% 16%
50 - 64 15% 28% 43%
65 and over 17% 19% 35%
All adults 37% 63%

12.6 As in the 2013/14 survey, the highest proportion of carers (43 per cent) is in the 50 to 64 year group and the lowest proportion is among the younger adult group (6 per cent). This latter figure is much lower than other surveys, as younger adults are under-represented in the Health and Care Experience survey. Overall, there was a higher proportion of carers who were women (63 per cent compared to 37 per cent of men).

Caring responsibilities

12.7 Of those who provide care, the distribution of the number of hours per week is shown in Table 13. It shows that very similar proportions (30 per cent) of respondents provided up to four hours and more than 50 hours a week, with slightly fewer providing between five and 19 hours a week. It was less common for respondents to provide between 20 to 49 hours of caring per week. This distribution is very similar to the one reported in 2013/14.

Table 13: Distribution of number of hours of caring per week

Hours of caring per week %
up to 4 hours 30
5-19 hours 25
20-34 hours 9
35-49 hours 6
50+ hours 30

Experiences of caring and impact on wellbeing

12.8 The survey asked carers about their experiences of five specific aspects of caring and the impact on their wellbeing. Figure 23 sets out the percentage of positive responses to these statements in both 2013/14 and 2015/16.

Figure 23: Percentage of people responding positively to statements regarding caring responsibilities (%)

Figure 23: Percentage of people responding positively to statements regarding caring responsibilities (%)

(*) note that this question is reported as the percentage of people who disagreed with the statement "Caring has had a negative impact on my health and wellbeing".

12.9 As with the previous survey, the responses in 2015/16 were mixed. Carers were most positive about the balance between caring and other things in their life, although the percentage has decreased from 70 per cent in 2013/14 to 68 per cent in 2015/16 agreeing.

12.10 Carers were least positive about the impact of caring on their health and wellbeing; 35 per cent of people said that caring had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. Only 40 per cent said that caring did not have a negative impact, which is two percentage points less than in 2013/14. The remaining 25 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement.

12.11 In line with the question in Section 11 (relating to care and support services received), fewer carers thought that services were well coordinated (42 per cent in 2015/16 compared with 48 per cent in 2013/14). Again, there was considerable variation between Health & Social Care Partnerships, ranging from 35 per cent to 58 per cent. Overall, 41 per cent of carers said that they felt supported to continue caring, ranging from 34 per to 59 per cent.


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