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Absent carers: Four fifths of over 40s in the North East care for a loved one – but one in five are unable to visit frequently


Feb 2, 2023
The study was commissioned by Sentai, an AI driven companion that’s designed to be with older relatives 24:7, providing friendly and intelligent company, while giving their families peace of mind

A study has found that four fifths (81%) of over 40s in the North East ‘care’ for a loved one living on their own, but, of these, almost a fifth (19%) are unable to visit frequently – leading to fears about the care recipients’ physical wellbeing, loneliness, and vulnerability.

At a time when half a million people in the UK are estimated to be waiting for care assessments, reviews, or for care to begin1, the new research highlights the challenging reality for those receiving care from or caring for a loved one.

The findings were part of a study that questioned more than 6,000 participants, including 281 from the North East, as part of research into the care needs of older people in the UK on behalf of age-tech innovator Sentai.

With relationships ranging from parents to grandparents to family friends, the study found that around four fifths of people in the North East (who are aged over 40) cared for someone in some capacity who lived on their own – be that physically caring for them, or simply keeping an eye on their wellbeing and checking they’re OK.

And of those who said they cared for someone, almost a fifth (19%) admitted that, despite this, they were unable to visit them frequently – running the risk of leaving them isolated and alone, with 94% of respondents saying they worried about them when not present.

When questioned around the main fears they had about the people they cared for, 33% said they feared a ‘fall’ the most, while 31% worried about ‘an emergency’ where they couldn’t contact help. A further 14% worried about loneliness most, while 13% were concerned about the care recipient’s general vulnerability. 8% stated their biggest concern centred on them taking their medication regularly, while 1% worried about them being able to get out of bed independently.

With research from Carers UK showing that five million people in the UK (one in seven of the workforce) are juggling caring responsibilities with work, the latest study was commissioned by Sentai, an AI driven companion that’s designed to be with older relatives 24/7, providing friendly and intelligent company, while giving their families peace of mind.

Founder and CEO of Sentai, Phil Marshman, who was inspired to create the brand following the experience of looking after his own father, commented, saying: “Caring for an older relative, or any loved one, is a challenge. And this challenge is the daily reality for many. The care sector in the UK is under immense pressure – and this just serves to underline the scale of the problem. Many people are having to care for older relatives themselves – either bridging the gap as they wait for care, or supplementing existing care services. Most though, are juggling this responsibility with work, and it’s no surprise 94% worry when they’re not there.”

He continued: “My own experience of being an informal carer to my 87-year-old father saw me look to develop a solution to help lessen this impact. I understand balancing work and care, the guilt of not being able to be there more, the worry over them being alone – and it’s from this that Sentai was born. Technology already helps us in so many aspects of life and age-tech has a huge part to play in the development of new care systems and how we support our ageing population to live independent and fulfilling lives for longer.”

Age-tech is any type of technology that improves the lives of ageing adults but ultimately it is something that has the potential to aid with the challenge of delivering care to the ageing population, bridging the gap between independence and more formal care.

Sentai, founded in 2020, is a pioneering smart companion offering assistance that links users with the loved ones who care for them. Centred around routines, Sentai learns its user’s daily habits and provides conversational prompts and reminders for everything from the time they usually start their day to medication and bin day. As the day passes, updates are sent to the user’s loved ones letting them know that everything is on track, or more critically, when things aren’t.

For more information, please visit www.sentai.ai