The aim of our 2021 report is for carers in the Armed Forces community to feel valued and receive support that is tailored to their needs, thereby improving their quality of life and that of those they care for.
RBL aims to improve knowledge of the profile, needs and experiences of members of the UK Armed Forces community to provide unpaid care; using this knowledge to inform policymakers how their needs can be better supported.
- 71% of survey respondents said that their caring responsibilities have had a negative impact on their mental health in the last year, with 50% saying they had negatively impacted their physical health in the last year.
- Carers in the Armed Forces community are receiving less support than carers in the general population; with 2 in 5 carers in who responded to our survey saying they had not received any support in the last two years.
- Less than one in ten carers in the Armed Forces community who responded to our survey have been able to take a break from caring in the last year (9%), which was even lower if the carer was caring for a veteran (4%).
- Serving carers face unique issues and 1 in 4 of the serving carers who responded to our survey feel they are currently unable to balance their caring responsibilities with their military career.
The main recommendations of the carers report include:
- The OVA, MoD and DHSC should work in partnership to improve access to statutory-funded respite provision for the Armed Forces community.
- The MoD should urgently develop, publish and implement a Tri-Service carers policy that directs serving personnel with caring responsibilities to suitable support and information, and provides clarity on how they are considered in relation to other Service policies. In line with the Tri-Service policy, each Service should develop its own tailored guidance.
- The NHS should invest in mental health and relationship support dedicated to carers of veterans with PTSD, and in England should increase awareness of and access to the support offered to families by Op COURAGE (The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service), providing increased outreach support to carers of veterans with mental health conditions.
Overall, the report makes 22 recommendations on how to improve recognition and support for unpaid carers in the Armed Forces community.
The recommendations are aimed at several agencies including the Ministry of Defence, the NHS, and the Office for Veterans' Affairs.