Dads care too

Search for images of ‘unpaid carer’ on any online search engine and you are met largely with photos of female carers — daughters caring for elderly parents, wives and partners caring for disabled spouses and mothers supporting their children. This is hardly surprising, caring is often seen as a ‘female’ issue.

It is a common misconception that women are the main providers of care and that men tend only to take on a peripheral caring role. But evidence shows otherwise. Men very often take on caring roles and, in fact, according to the 2011 Census over 40% of carers are male. Many of these are dads who are solely responsible for providing care for their child or children. Commonly these fathers also care for another family member or friend.

Dad-carer-2Evidently the stereotype that caring is only for women must be challenged. Earlier this week Carers Trust and the Mens Health Forum published a new report into the experiences of Dads who are carers which explores who these men are, the care they are providing and the specific challenges they face as male carers.

Of those surveyed, a third reported that they never get a break, three quarters said they missed out on seeing family and friends because of their caring role and 20% had been caring for 21 years or more. The challenges are immense — the dads reported high instances of both physical and mental health problems including stress, depression and exhaustion. One dad described the stress and frustration at juggling work and caring following the death of his wife, another reported having a serious heart attack due to stress, poor diet and lack of exercise. These are not isolated cases.

These dads, and others like them need support. 55% felt their support needs differed from those of female carers with services very often geared more towards women. Services, including carers services and commissioners should consult dads who care to ensure services are designed to meet their distinct needs.

Encouragingly there are some images of male carers when you do the online images search mentioned earlier – this goes some way to challenge perceptions but the research shows that there is a lot more to be done to ensure male carers, and in particular dads who are carers are recognised and supported effectively.

Read the full report

Rachel Harris, Policy and Research Team, Carers Trust


August 6, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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