Male carers: Husband, Partner, Dad, Son, Carer?

More than four in ten (42%) of the UK’s unpaid carers are male. The report ‘Husband, Partner, Dad, Son, Carer?’ looks into the experiences and needs of male carers to help raise awareness of the fact that male carers may not be getting the support they need.

Carers Trust and the Men’s Health Forum carried out a survey of male carers at the start of 2014. 609 male carers from across the UK took part. The survey’s findings were also supported by semi structured interviews with Carers Trust Network Partners (independent local services for carers of all ages, supporting people with any condition) which currently offer groups and activities specifically for male carers.

The report found that:The Men's Health Forum & Carers Trust report Husband, Partner, Dad, Son, Carer?

  • More than one in four male carers in employment would not describe or acknowledge themselves as a carer to others, meaning they may not get the support they need at work
  • Over half of the male carers (53%) surveyed felt that the needs of male carers were different to those of female carers, many citing that men find it harder to ask for help and support and that balancing work and caring is challenging, particularly if they are the main earner
  • One quarter (26.3%) of men surveyed cared for more than 60 hours per week and worked
  • Four in ten male carers said that they never had a break from their caring role
  • 56% of male carers aged 18-64 said being a carer had a negative impact on their mental health and 55% said that their health was “fair or poor”.

Male carers under 65 in England are also more likely to visit their GP than the rest of the male population, visiting four times per year – but despite this their health is often still poor and many are not identified as being male carers and so do not get support.

Recommendations include:

  • Employers and health and social care professionals need to be aware that male carers in employment are less likely to identify or describe themselves as a carer to others. Their need for support may not therefore be immediately obvious and might result in them missing out on vital help.
  • Awareness raising is needed of the caring role many employed men undertake and the support available to them. Employers need to have, and make sure all staff are aware of, policies to support carers at work.
  • Support needs to be developed in a practical, supportive and non-stigmatising way for men taking on caring roles, particularly later in life, who may find aspects of domestic work difficult if they have previously been done by the person they now care for and for men providing intimate or personal care for women.
  • Employers should introduce carers leave to enable their employees to balance work and care. Local authorities should provide support that enables carers to work if they wish to. Employers should address male carers’ worries and concerns about the effect caring has on their work and employment opportunities. It is important that male carers are signposted to local carers organisations which can provide them with information on their employment.
  • Health and social care professionals need to identify male carers and address their health needs. Caring has a considerable impact on the mental health of male carers, particularly those aged 18–64 and this group is in need of specific support from a range of NHS and other support services. Commissioners should look to develop services to support this group.
  • Local authorities should also ensure that male carers are proactively identified and encouraged to self-identify through awareness raising and making clear the benefits of a carer’s assessment and how to access one.
  • Commissioners should consider developing services to specifically meet the needs of male carers of all age groups. Health, care and carers organisations should ensure male carers are made aware of existing support available in their local area.​

This project is part of the Men's Health Forum's work as a strategic partner of the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England.