14 Jun Carers Action Plan 2018 – 2020 – Supporting carers today
Every year, more and more people take on a caring role. The enormous contribution of our country’s carers not only makes an invaluable difference to the people they support, it is an integral part of our health and social care system and it deserves to be better recognised.
To doctors, carers are the experts-by-experience turning treatment plans into reality. To pharmaceutical companies, they can be an important influence towards the achievement of treatment success. To the people they help, they are the indispensable family members, friends, and neighbours that make each day possible. Within our communities they are vital partners, bridging the gap between local health and care services.
What none of us must forget is that carers have their own needs too. We must be alert and responsive to those needs, or we risk compromising their health and wellbeing and – by association – the recipients of their care.
Many of us will be a carer at some stage in our lives. Today around 1 in 10 of the population are carers (Census, 2011). The role can come about unexpectedly and many will put their own lives on hold to help someone close to them. While for most carers the experience of looking after someone close is rewarding and undoubtedly has an immeasurable impact on the people they care for, the hours can be long and their work is hard. Caring can take a toll on the carer’s own health, relationships and finances.
The value and importance of carers to health and social care and broader society is ever- increasing with our ageing population. One estimate suggests that the number of disabled older adults (65+) receiving informal care in England will increase from around 2.2 million in 2015 to around 3.5 million by 2035, which represents an increase of 63% (Wittenburg and Hu, 2015). In the UK this care is worth billions of pounds to the economy each year.
However, too often carers feel they are on their own, do not feel respected, valued and supported for the huge contribution they make. They feel that what they do is sometimes taken for granted and overlooked, which often takes a toll on their own wellbeing. Not only do carers face emotional challenges but they sometimes navigate through complex systems with little formal guidance and direction (Carers Call for Evidence 2016 -Government response to the carers call for evidence).
Carers need to be recognised and valued. Carers need access to information and support to provide the best care they can. Carers need to be helped to balance their caring responsibilities with their own employment and to preserve their personal health and wellbeing. That is why we are publishing this Carers Action Plan. It sets out the practical actions we plan to take over the next two years working together across government and with partners beyond government.
As a mark of the Government’s commitment to carers, we, Ministers from the Government Equalities Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education have contributed to and are investing in this action plan, which we have signed alongside the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Government recognises that there is still more to do. That is why the needs of carers will also be central to the forthcoming social care green paper. Carers are vital partners in the health and social care system and a sustainable settlement for social care will simply not be possible without focusing on how our society supports carers.
Each of us must also do our bit to help recognise, value, support and celebrate carers, who make an amazing contribution looking after so many people in need of help and support.
Prepared by the Department of Health and Social Care.