All of us at some point are touched by the care that family and friends provide to loved ones – including ourselves - in times of need.
We know that without the support of relatives and informal networks of support, the health and social care system simply wouldn’t cope.
Although there is still more to do, significant progress has been made in raising awareness of carers and their needs and the importance of supporting them in the contribution they make to their loved ones.
But just as important, we need to make sure carers’ needs, health and wellbeing are attended to as well.
Having just returned from helping to care for my own mother, it really brought it home to me how much love and care family and friends bring to people who need support.
I was also reminded of how rewarding but also demanding and tiring being a carer can be. More than ever, the Carers Action Plan (CAP) and its implementation is a cornerstone of social care policy and social workers have a vital role to play in delivering its benefits.
The Department of Health and Social Care's carers policy team have worked hard to make sure carers have co-produced the plan and that the actions within it really do deliver positive differences in their lives.
That’s why I’m pleased to introduce this guest blog from our dedicated departmental colleague Anita Wadhawan highlighting progress to date...
Collaboration is its own reward
Anita: It has been a very exciting, busy and productive year for the team with lots of positive, collaborative work across Government and the wider care and support sector.
This unity of purpose has been essential in realising the Government’s commitment to valuing, recognising and supporting informal carers to provide care in ways that protect their own health and wellbeing, employment and life chances.
Earlier this summer, the Department for Health and Social Care published its one year progress review of the CAP. Initially launched in June 2018, it set out how the Government would improve support for unpaid carers in England over the next two years (until 2020).
The review, we’re pleased to say, shows steady progress on all 64 actions defined in the CAP. Highlights include:
- NHS England and Care Quality Commission launching quality standards for carer-friendly GP practices
- Best practice guidance for local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and other commissioners on carer and respite breaks
- The Children’s Society’s work to improve positive transitions from young adult carers to adulthood and;
- Government Equalities Office’s efforts to improve support for those preparing or wishing to return to work after taking time out to care for friends or family
Caring with confidence
We are also particularly pleased with the launch of the new employer benchmarking scheme Carer Confident, which accredits employers based on support they provide carers in the workplace.
Meanwhile, the ongoing delivery of Carer Passports continues to identify and support more unpaid carers and the launch of the £5 million Carer Innovation Fund will help develop innovative ways to support carers outside mainstream health and care services.
We in the DHSC Carers Policy Team have worked hard over the last year to improve the lives of carers across the country as we work to make good on the CAP’s many commitments.
As we move into the second year of the action plan. we will continue to build accessible carer friendly communities, promote innovative local ideas, service or projects, and improve advice and information to facilitate greater service integration for carers.
We want to make sure that caring, as either a choice or responsibility, is always recognised and valued. Carers deserve to be supported in ways that allows them to lead fulfilling lives alongside caring without compromising their health or those they care for.