Objectives: To explore the experiences of individuals with chronic conditions who are also caring for another person, usually a family member.
Method: A postal questionnaire was distributed to carers across Wales on three occasions approximately 18 months apart. It included the SF-12v2 together with fixed-choice and open-ended questions relating to carer demographics, carer assessment, support needs, services received and care recipient's medical condition. A sub-sample of these carers was invited to take part in face-to-face interviews to allow for more in-depth exploration of their circumstances.
Results: The carers with chronic conditions experienced a decline in their physical health over time whereas the physical health of carers without a chronic condition remained stable. There was also evidence of carers neglecting their own health because of their caring responsibilities. Despite their health problems, over time the carers with chronic conditions received no more support than other carers.
Discussion: This article indicates that there are carers who are themselves suffering from a physical condition or conditions that suggest they are in need of care. Despite these difficulties, these carers are caring for people with quite severe conditions, without any help above that available to other carers.