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New study reveals huge contribution of carers of terminally ill

A new study has revealed that family carers of people with cancer are providing support beyond the safe working hours recommended to preserve their health and wellbeing.

The Dimbleby Cancer Care funded study shows family carers of people with cancer on average provide almost 70 hours of care a week to look after their relatives in the last three months of life.

The study, which was carried out by the Universities of Newcastle, Manchester and Groningen in the Netherlands, has been published in this month’s Palliative Medicine.

The team received responses from 1,504 carers through a national postal survey in the autumn of 2015. The survey was sent via the Office for National Statistics to 5,271 relatives who registered a death in May 2015. Local carers groups helped shape the material.

Findings of the survey

The survey revealed:

  • The main type of care provided was social/emotional support but carers also undertook considerable practical help, personal care and healthcare tasks
  • Carers had an average of £370 out of pocket expenditure during the last three months of the decedent’s life
  • A quarter of carers spent £100 of this on additional medical equipment and care supplies
  • One in six had ‘one off expenses’ during their whole time care-giving with costs of £2,000
  • Most of the care in the study  - around 75% - was carried out at home.

The research team studied the work of carers by tasks including preparing food, shopping, cleaning, attending appointments and general administration.

For the full article please visit the Newcastle University website.

Published on 3rd April 2017


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  • Violet  Rook
    19th April 2017

    I cared for my parents who both had Cancer at the same time and died within three months of each other. I would collect oxygen cylinders weekly for my mother, and carry out all her physical needs plus encourage my father to have hope too. It was a terrible time when I stood over my mothers grave with my father knowing he would be at her side in death as in life.