We've identified the key changes we need to see introduced so we can achieve that ambition. Our task now is to work policy-makers to see those changes implemented.
Reach more carers
There are currently seven million unpaid carers in the UK but only a very small number are receiving the support they need.
Many carers don't identify themselves as a carer, are unaware of their right to support, or haven't been picked-up by the health and social care services that should be offering them help.
It is troubling to think that although there are services in place to help carers, many carers who need support won't be accessing them simply because they are unaware of their basic rights. However, lots of carers will already be in touch with the people that could help them get that support – such as GPs and pharmacies.
Ensure carers have good support
We have been pleased to see the political tide turn in favour of carers in recent years. The message from political parties has become increasingly clear: we recognise the invaluable contribution carers make to society and want to ensure they have the support they need and deserve.
What we need to see now are kind words turned into committed actions.
This can be achieved by:
Ensuring the Care Act is implemented in full
As of April 2015 and the introduction of the Care Act, local authorities have a legal duty to provide all carers with an assessment of their needs and put in place services that will protect their health and wellbeing.
This is a substantial step forwards in support for carers and an opportunity we don't want to see missed. Carers Trust is concerned, however, that without financial backing local authorities won’t be able to meet these new duties.
Coordinating health and social care services
The government has pledged £5.3bn in funding to join-up, enhance, and expand local health and social care services.
Recognising the invaluable role carers play, local authorities are expected to use this money, provided through a project known as the Better Care Fund, to give carers specific support.
However, our research into the plans that have been developed by local councils for spending the new Fund has raised a major concern: just 1 in 4 contain specific details on how the money would be used to fund carer-specific support.
Carers are one of the corner stones of our social care system in Britain. Failure on the part of Health and Wellbeing Boards to recognise that in their plans will not only do a disservice to carers – it will mean the Better Care Fund will fail in its ambition of creating a modern health and social care system that can meet the demands of the 21st century.
Supporting carers in difficult situations
Out of the UK's seven million carers, 1 in 4 is caring for someone with a mental health problem and 1 in 10 is caring for someone with dementia.
Doing so can be a profoundly difficult task. Carers have to quickly learn new skills to help them provide care in these sensitive and tricky circumstances. It’s a responsibility that would be considered difficult for a health professional, let alone someone who is trying to do it unpaid, voluntarily, and whilst juggling other day-to-day errands.
Despite the pressure these carers are under, a desperate lack of support is leaving them exposed:
- Only 32% of frontline mental health staff have been trained in supporting carers.
- More than two-thirds of carers of people with dementia say they have not received any advice or training for how to cope when the person they care for becomes agitated as a result of their ill-health.