Scottish grandparents bear brunt of childcare, report claims

Jenny Ackland AHP National Consultant Age Scotland. 
Case study for grandparents looking after grandchildren.
Jenny Ackland AHP National Consultant Age Scotland. Case study for grandparents looking after grandchildren.
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More than a third of Scottish grandparents over the age of 50 – around 370,000 people – provide regular childcare for their grandchildren, a report has claimed.

Almost all grandparents who provide regular care do so at least once a week, with 15 per cent looking after their grandchildren every day, according to the study from Age Scotland. Almost one in 10 grandparents has given up work or reduced their hours to help with childcare.

Two thirds of grandparents who provide care say it enables their children to work more, while 59 per cent believe their children would have to give up a job or cut down hours without them - however the vast majority look after their grandchildren unpaid, saying that they receive huge benefits from spending more time with their grandchildren.

Six in ten of those surveyed said it helps them stay physically and mentally active, 41 per cent said it gave them a sense of purpose, and 18 per cent admitting it stopped them from feeling lonely. More than a quarter said they would like to spend even more time with their grandchildren.

While 30 per cent of grandparents say they are often asked for advice and practical tips such as recipes and how to mend things, the exchange of information goes both ways. One in five said their grandchildren also provide practical help such as support with technology if they need it.

Age Scotland’s charity director, Keith Robson, said: “More and more working parents depend on Granny or Granddad for regular childcare or to help in emergencies, with many grandparents even cutting down their own working hours to help out.

“With so many playing a pivotal role in caring for grandchildren, it’s no surprise this results in close and lasting bonds between the generations. Children know they can turn to their grandparents for help and advice or to share their problems.”