Hidden care during COVID-19: Understanding the needs and experiences of unpaid carers during the pandemic.



  • Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, University of Exeter


  • Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Attracta Lafferty (University College Dublin)
  • Dr Stephen Gallagher (University of Limerick)
  • Tony Collins (Carers Centre Tower Hamlets)
  • Lisa Reakes (Carer)

This workshop provides an integrated overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unpaid carers in the UK and Ireland. We will begin by sharing key findings from three studies of family care conducted during the pandemic: (1) Caring through Coronavirus – a rapid-response, longitudinal, qualitative study of carers in England; (2) Understanding Society – a quantitative, longitudinal study of UK households; and, (3) CAREWELL – a qualitative study of carers juggling work and care in Ireland. Following the presentation of findings from these studies, carers and social care professionals will share their experience of seeking, providing, and receiving support during the pandemic. Consistent with a solutions-focused approach, the session will finish with a roundtable discussion of how best to meet the needs of family carers during times of crisis.

This workshop will provide insights into the impact of the pandemic itself, as well as the impact of policies and legislations implemented in response to the pandemic. It will consider the toll on carers and the ways in which carers were (or were not) acknowledged during this global event. Grounded in evidence and lived experience, the workshop will identify best practice and make recommendations for better support for unpaid carers in the future.