Our thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our Dorset carers survey, which was shared in our postal newsletter and online.

Over 160 unpaid carers shared their experiences and views, which helps us to highlight the things that matter most to Dorset’s carers in terms of the support they receive to live their lives well. The survey found that many are caring for long hours, including during the night, and an overwhelming message was that carers need better and easier access to respite.

The findings included the following:

Time spent caring

  • Over 65% of carers in Dorset dedicate more than 50 hours per week to their caring responsibilities.
  • Nearly 95% of carers commit over 20 hours per week to caring and 69% provide care during the night.
  • One in four carers have been in their caregiving role for over 10 years.


  • Nearly 25% of carers are struggling to meet basic living needs.
  • Nearly half of carers expressed concerns about their long-term financial situation.

Emotional and mental wellbeing

  • 98% of carers feel stressed about their caring role, with nearly one in five permanently experiencing stress.
  • 88% feel mentally exhausted, and two in five report frequently feeling this way.
  • 67% express the need for more emotional support.

Loss of control and social impact

  • Over 45% of carers feel they have lost control of their lives.
  • Over 60% report a significant impact on their social lives.
  • 65% feel their caring role limits their choices about the future.

Respite and support services

  • 71% of carers feel that community services are not meeting their needs for respite.
  • Over 50% of carers don’t get a regular short break from their caring role.
  • Nearly 60% are never or only sometimes happy with professional support provided by paid carers and respite services.

Challenges in caring

  • Over a third of carers have experienced physical or emotional harm from the person they care for.
  • 20% feel they sometimes can’t manage situations with the person they care for.

The future

  • 82% worry about what would happen if they could no longer care.
  • Despite the challenges, 97% feel they have a positive impact on the person they care for.

The survey also found that most carers responding are caring for one person (87%) and that person is more-often-than-not their partner (64%). The most common reasons for caring for someone are due to frailty/older age, dementia, a long-term physical condition or a physical disability.

We asked in the survey about the Carer Support Dorset service to measure satisfaction/ dissatisfaction and find what we are doing well and need to do more of.

Nearly 60% said they would recommend CSD to other carers and nearly 50% reported a positive impact on their quality of life as carers.

Other findings were:

The overwhelming response regarding how the overall support system could be better for carers was that better and easier access to respite needs to be available.

Carers also said they would welcome a carers’ guide and system flow chart at the start of their caring journey.

Our thanks again to those who contributed to this survey, which really helps us to highlight the critical challenges faced by carers in Dorset and underlines the need for continued support and intervention. The findings will help us with a roadmap for enhancing and expanding support services to meet the evolving needs of the caregiving community in Dorset.