Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities have a responsibility to support carers in a number of ways. Local authorities will be required to undertake carers’ assessments, based on the appearance of a need for support. An assessment must establish the impact of caring on the carer, and the outcomes they wish to achieve, including engaging in work, education, training or recreation. For the first time, local authorities have a duty to meet carers’ eligible needs for support: this may include access to training to support them in their caring role or support to maintain employment where this is a desired outcome.
Through the Care Act 2014 local authorities are required to provide information and advice and universal preventative services for carers. Local authorities can also support the person in understanding other types of support available to them for example to seek to promote access to appropriate employment, education or training, which can be an effective way of maintaining independence.
In May 2014, NHS England published an action plan NHS England’s Commitment to Carers, which includes a series of commitments around 8 priorities, among which are raising the profile of carers. The Department of Health has also made available additional funding of £400 million to the National Health Service between 2011 and 2015 to enable carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities to sustain them in their caring role. The carers’ breaks funding of £130 million for 2015 – 16 will also be in the Better Care Fund.
In February 2015 the Government launched a joint Department of Health, Government Equality Office and Department for Work and Pensions investment of £1.6 million in pilots in nine local authority areas to explore ways in which people can be supported to combine work and care.
We also fund the Carers Direct service which includes web-based information and advice for all carers through NHS Choices, as well as a telephone helpline service through which carers can be signposted to information. Carers Direct includes training materials that build on the Caring with Confidence programme – a time-limited national programme funded by the Department of Health to support the development of carer training, which closed in September 2010.
On July 2015 my Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Mr Jeremy Hunt) announced that the Government will develop a new carers’ strategy that looks at the best of international practice and examines what more we can do to support existing carers and new carers. This will include consideration how best to support carers to maintain employment and of the training requirements of carers and whether current measures are fully meeting these.
Specifically regarding carers of people with dementia, the Department of Health contributed to the funding of the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Dementia Guide’, designed to help guide people with dementia and their carers through their journey with dementia. The Guide provides useful information for carers, following a diagnosis of dementia, and includes advice to help people understand a diagnosis of dementia to enable them to live well with the condition.
With Department of Health funding, the Royal College of General Practitioners has developed a Dementia Roadmap that can be accessed by families and carers. It is a web based platform that provides high quality information about the dementia journey alongside local information about services, support groups and care pathways, primarily to assist primary care staff to more effectively support people with dementia, their families and carers.
The Department is supporting the Dementia Action Alliance’s Carers Call to Action and the establishment of a Life Story Network for family carers of people with dementia. The Department provided funding of £30,000 to the Life Story Network during 2014/15 to support the establishment of a new involvement network for family carers of people with dementia, which is being established as part of the legacy of the Dementia Action Alliance’s Carers Call to Action.
NHS England’s 2015/16 Dementia Enhanced Service encourages GP practices to increase the health and wellbeing support offered to carers of patients diagnosed with dementia.