By Adeelah Khan
Carers UK estimate that there are around half a million carers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and that together they save the state £7.9 billion a year, with the unpaid care they provide.
Women still take on most unpaid care duties, and we know that in some South Asian communities the caring responsibility of an elderly parent or parent-in-law tends to fall on the daughter or daughter-in-law. Within the same families there is also often more than just one carer as the demands of caring are shared between other adults, and even children.
Whilst parallels can be drawn between most carers, there are some distinct challenges within South Asian carer communities that add another layer to the demands of being a carer, as explained by Kavita (not her real name) who used to care for her 94-year old father-in-law:
Some Asian parents do not speak English, so the language barrier is a real issue and their children are expected to look after them. People are living longer and while you may have a big extended family in India and never feel alone, here, you may be alone and older, so it is harder to care and to also then have a job.
Many carers are therefore absorbing the weight of providing care for a family member who would not be able to manage without their support. But with an aging population and longer life expectancies, we hear from carers who are finding it difficult to balance their caring responsibilities alongside a paid job.
We know from national research that carers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds provide more care proportionality than White British carers and are more likely to engage in low-paid, temporary or zero-hour contract jobs. Some carers find it significantly hard or simply cannot afford to take time off from work when a caring emergency arises.
It is not surprising then to learn that one in five carers are forced to give up employment in order to continue caring if their employer does not offer flexible work arrangements. The impact of this is that carers begin to feel socially excluded and isolated, suffer poorer health and are more likely to struggle financially.
The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted how flexible working can be applied to many jobs, more than previously thought. Continuing this adapted way of working could help alleviate the pressure faced by many carers. If this coronavirus outbreak shows us anything, it is that we can and must do things differently.
If you are a South Asian or Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic carer who lives in West Sussex, or looks after someone who lives within the county, then please consider contacting Carers Support West Sussex by phone on 0300 028 8888 or email email@example.com for support and information to help manage your caring role. Interpreters or translation support can be provided free (as in no cost to you) in languages other than English over the phone and through online chat support service. Visit carerssupport.org.uk for more information.
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