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Carers win new rights in Wales

15 July 2009

Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister has announced that a new law for carers will be part of the Welsh Assembly Government's legislative programme for the coming year. This marks a major success in the campaign by Carers Wales to improve the support available for carers

 

The new law (known as a Measure) will " introduce new requirements on the NHS in partnership with local authorities to produce a carers' information strategy. The Measure will also seek that young carers do not carry an inappropriate burden"

Roz Williamson, Director, Carers Wales said "We are delighted that the Government is pressing ahead with this new law which has resulted from campaigning by carers. Information is vital for all carers if they are to successfully navigate their way through the complexities of health, social services, benefits and employment. This important new law started as a result of discussions at a carers' event in Swansea. One carer told politicians across all the political parties "Don't any of you tell me how wonderful I am. I am sick and tired of hearing that. What I want to know is not whether you understand but what you are going to do to help". As a result, Helen Mary Jones AM pledged to help to deliver change for carers and in 2008 she won support for her proposal to put a new duty on health as well as social services to inform carers of their rights and ensure carers can get the support they need. This has now been adopted as a government commitment. The new law will ensure that carers are identified at an early stage and given the information they need. We know that unless carers are given the right information at the right time, they are unable to get the help and support they need and they suffer financially and pay a heavy personal price in terms of their own health and well-being. We also very much welcome the promise to protect young carers from shouldering inappropriate burdens."

Lack of information can make an already difficult situation even worse. Rebecca Rosethal, a member of Carers Wales, cares for her son Josh who was born with cerebral palsy. Rebecca says "I didn't recognise myself as a carer until about five years after Joshua was born. I considered myself to mainly be a mother with a duty to look after my son who happened to be born with a disability. From the very beginning I was in contact with a lot of healthcare and medical staff but nobody ever thought to tell me that I was a carer and had a legal right to request a carers' assessment to look at my own needs. It wasn't until a few years ago that I had an assessment and following that assessment I was able to take advantage of a carers grant scheme in Carmarthenshire. However despite having the assessment there were still things that I hadn't been told, for example that I may be entitled to Direct Payments. This new law will hopefully ensure health and social care staff become more aware of who carers are and provide information and signposting to appropriate agencies at an early stage".

Roz Williamson, Director, Carers Wales 029 2081 1370 or 0786 654 4066

Beth Evans, Information and Communications Officer 029 2081 1370

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