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The level of need in the population

Adults :: Carers :: The level of need in the population

Although it is difficult to measure the current overall level of unpaid care provided by Medway's residents, the most recent Census data provides us with our best indication. In 2011, the number stood at approximately 25,000, accounting for 9.5% of the total population.[1] Overall, this places Medway below the national and regional averages in terms of unpaid care provision, with England and South East revealing values of 10.2% and 9.8% respectively.[1] The breakdown of unpaid carers within Medway by age and gender can be seen below in Figure 1. The largest group of unpaid carers were women aged 55-59, of which 22.0% were providing unpaid care. Using figures from the 2011 Census, there are an estimated 661 children and young people in the age range 0 - 15 provided unpaid care in Medway, with an additional 1,632 in the 16 - 24 age range.

Figure 1: Percentage of the population in each age group in Medway who are providing unpaid care, 2011 census.
Figure 1: Percentage of the population in each age group in Medway who are providing unpaid care, 2011 census.

National trends reveal an overall increase in the level of reported unpaid care, with an increment of 11.3% in England between the 2001 and 2011 Census surveys. In Medway, the number of unpaid carers increased by 16.5% from that recorded in the previous (2001) Census; including a 51.1% increase in unpaid care provision by those aged 65 and over. Changes to the age ranges displayed at Local Authority level mean that direct comparisons for the younger age ranges cannot be made with previous surveys. However, national figures in the 2011 Census show a 2.1% rise in young carers identified as providing unpaid care compared with the preceding survey.[2]

If we look at the level of care provided, slightly fewer carers in Medway provide the lower (1 to 19 hours per week) and medium (20 to 49 hours) levels of care than the national average, whilst there are slightly more carers in Medway than the national average providing higher (50+ hours) levels of unpaid care.[1] Unpaid carers reported poorer health than those not delivering unpaid care (4.7% and 6.5% respectively); with carers delivering 50 hours or more of care revealing the highest levels of poor health (11.7%).[3]

At ward level Peninsula, Gillingham North and Gillingham South have the greatest proportions of unpaid carers; Cuxton & Halling, River and Lordswood & Capstone have the lowest.[4] There is no obvious correlation between the level of deprivation in a ward and the percentage of the population who are carers. Similarly to the general population, the majority of carers in Medway were of white ethnicity; in this group 9.8% provided unpaid care.[5] Most unpaid carers are still economically active (65.7%). However, a higher proportion of part-time workers, working in an employed or self-employed capacity, undertake caring responsibilities than those working in a full-time role.[6] It is likely this is due to the requirement of carers to reduce work hours in order to provide care.


[1]   ONS. Census 2011;
[2]   ONS. Census 2001;
[3]   NOMIS, ONS. Provision of unpaid care by general health by sex by age 2015;
[4]   NOMIS, ONS. Sex and age by general health and provision of unpaid care, by ward. 2015;
[5]   NOMIS, ONS. Ethnic Group by provision of unpaid care by general health. 2015;
[6]   NOMIS, ONS. Economic activity by provision of unpaid care by general health by sex. 2015;