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  • Over half of unpaid carers (55%) who use day services have reduced or no access because of COVID-19
  • Only 13% of carers confident they would get support they need in the next 12 months
  • Six in 10 (62%) worried services will be reduced and nearly half (47%) worried about losing access to voluntary sector services because of funding cuts
  • One in five unpaid carers who work would reduce working hours or would be at risk of giving up work altogether if they cannot access affordable and accessible care

Plans for boosters for unpaid carers published yesterday

The Government has set out new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement for every employee in Britain.
It will also introduce a day one right to one-week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has today issued its advice on those eligible for the Covid-19 booster vaccine.

The JCVI list includes unpaid adult carers as part of the groups who will be part of the booster programme.

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced the launch of a new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) on 1st October 2021, to be co-led by Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy and Jonathan Marron. The Office will bring together expert advice, data and evidence to tackle health disparities across the UK and work with other government departments on the wider social determinants of health from employment to housing.

Earlier this year, caring was identified as a social determinant of health by Public Health England and evidence from the 2021 GP Patient Survey shows that health inequalities for carers are exacerbated if they are also part of a marginalised group.

The Government today set out its proposals for funding the adult social care system.

  • Research by Carers UK shows more than half of family carers (56%) were left out of planning for their loved one to leave hospital
  • The majority (61%) were not given enough information and advice to care safely
  • Health and Care Bill before Parliament sees carers’ rights to support watered down

New research from national charity Carers UK shows the NHS Discharge to Assess model, which sees patients’ ongoing care needs assessed only after they have left hospital, is failing to include family carers in the discharge process and putting patients’ health at risk.

A survey by the charity of nearly 2,000 people in England providing high levels of unpaid care for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives found a quarter (25%) had experienced hospital discharge. It found that the majority were not involved, consulted or given the right information to care safely when their loved ones were discharged from hospital.

The research reveals the devastating impact on carers left unsupported and floundering to meet the changed needs of relatives coming out of hospital, taking on unacceptable levels of care which in some cases were unsafe.

The key findings of the research show:

  • More than half of carers (56%) providing significant care were not involved in decisions about hospital discharge
  • Two thirds (66%) did not feel listened to about their willingness and ability to care
  • A majority (61%) were not given enough information and advice to care safely and well
  • Most carers (60%) said insufficient support was provided to protect the health and wellbeing of the patient or their own health
  • 82% of respondents said they had not received a carer’s assessment.

Carers UK and Carers Trust are pleased to be continuing their roles as members of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance, set up by the Government, to ensure the lived experiences of unpaid carers and the services that support them are reflected in its development of health and care policy.

The Government’s relaunch of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance will see the charities working with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Improvement and Public Health England to support collaborative working between the statutory and voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors to improve the health and wellbeing of carers.

Carers UK and Carers Trust – as the Carers Partnership - will remain members of the Alliance for the next three years, working together to bring carers’ voices and experiences into national policy development and delivery, as well as supporting better practice locally.

The national charity Carers UK and not-for-profit campaign Smart Energy GB are excited to be working together to raise awareness of smart meters amongst unpaid carers in Britain.

Described as the next generation of gas and electricity meters, they are designed to help consumers take control of and manage their energy use at home. They have the potential to make life easier for time-pressed family members and friends caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives.

Unlike traditional energy meters, smart meters automatically send gas and electricity readings to energy suppliers via a secure network. They provide accurate rather than estimated billing costs for energy that has been used, and have in-home displays to help people keep track of their energy usage.

Upgrading outdated analogue meters to smart meters could save carers time and energy they may normally spend taking meter readings every month, or on the phone to their energy supplier to talk about unexpected bills. The in-home display can also help make it more simple for carers to keep an eye on energy spending habits.

Previous research published by Carers UK earlier this year shows unpaid carers find it challenging helping to manage their loved one’s affairs on top of providing many hours of physical and emotional support.

Today (Wednesday 14th July) the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) published the results of their Spring Survey.

It shows council budgets are not able to meet the increasing demands for care they are receiving. It also shows people requiring care and support are waiting long periods to receive a care assessment - some more than six months - or for direct payments to be implemented. Following the pandemic, nearly 160,000 people still had not had their annual review of their care package.

Even before the pandemic, carers were often waiting for carer’s assessments. Our 2019 survey of carers showed that, of those carers who had asked for a carer’s assessment, 20% waited longer than six months. This situation has clearly got worse as councils’ funding is squeezed even further at a time of unprecedented need.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“The picture painted by ADASS’s Spring Survey could not be clearer: despite short term funding injections during the pandemic, councils are struggling to fund the increasing number of requests for care and support coming in, leaving families without the help they desperately need. 81% of carers told us they are providing more care since the start of the pandemic, and nearly three quarters say it’s because the needs of the person they care for have increased. 

“It is no surprise that many are experiencing burnout and telling us they are at breaking point - 35% said they feel unable to manage their caring role. Carers are desperately worried about the future, with fewer than one in five (14%) saying they are confident that the support they receive with caring will continue following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are deeply concerned about the level of carer breakdown councils are seeing - one of the main pressures on the social care system at the moment. It is unacceptable that carers are being pushed to the brink of collapse.

“Councils are in increasingly untenable situations making difficult funding decisions about services that affect people’s lives. Behind every statistic is a struggling family and a carer who needs support - they should not have to live their lives on hold. Long-term, sustainable investment in social care and a plan for reform that has carers at its heart must be set out by the Government at the earliest opportunity.”

Today the Government introduced the Health and Care Bill; proposals to legislation that they state aim to make the healthcare system less bureaucratic, more accountable and more integrated following the COVID-19 pandemic.

With reference to unpaid carers, the bill would amend the National Health Service Act 2006 so public involvement does not just include those who use NHS services, but also their carers and representatives. Carers UK sees this as a positive change that will ensure carers are properly included in all patient and public involvement and consultations.

In relation to integrated care systems – partnerships set up between organisations to meet health and care needs across an area – a proposed clause in the Bill is to promote both patients’ and carers’ involvement in decisions about prevention of illness and treatment. A further clause promotes patients’ and carers’ involvement in the commissioning of services within integrated care systems. Carers UK welcomes these clauses.

The charity further welcomes updates to the official hospital discharge guidance. Carers UK previously raised the important issue that the guidance did not include carers’ rights during the process, so we are pleased these are now reflected. The guidance makes clear that the carer of a person being discharged from hospital must be consulted for their views, including that they are willing and able to care when that person is discharged. It states that a carer’s assessment should be undertaken before caring responsibilities begin if this is a new caring duty or if there are increased care needs.

The Government has published its priority list for the COVID-19 booster and annual vaccines as follows:

Stage 1. The following people should be offered a third dose COVID-19 booster vaccine and the annual influenza vaccine, as soon as possible from September 2021:

  • adults aged 16 years and over who are immunosuppressed;
  • those living in residential care homes for older adults;
  • all adults aged 70 years or over;
  • adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable;
  • frontline health and social care workers.

Stage 2. The following people should be offered a third COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as practicable after Stage 1, with equal emphasis on deployment of the influenza vaccine where eligible:

  • all adults aged 50 years and over
  • all adults aged 16 – 49 years who are in an influenza or COVID-19 at-risk group as outlined in the Green Book
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

NHSX has today published a draft data strategy: ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’ which, following the pandemic, aims to give patients more control of their health data and enables staff to make quicker, informed decisions to deliver better treatment.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) today released their 2021 Activity Survey report.

New data issued by the ONS today (Friday 11th June 2021) during Carers Week shows that carers have been more greatly affected by the pandemic compared with the general public.

Compared to non-carers, more carers say the following aspects of their lives have been affected:

  • their work is affected (30% compared to 26%),
  • life events (44% compared to 40%),
  • household finances (18% compared to 15%),
  • access to groceries, medication and essentials (15% of carers compared to 10% for non-carers). 

Most stark is the impact on unpaid carers’ access to healthcare and treatment for non-COVID-19 issues – 30% of carers said this was impacted compared to 20% of non-carers.

Carers were also more likely to have met someone in a support bubble – 31% of carers did this compared to 20% of non-carers. This shows how important this measure, which was only introduced for carers of adults towards the end of last year, has been.

The ONS survey was carried out between 31 March 2021 and 21 April 2021 when the “rule of 6” outside was in place in England and “stay local” restrictions were in place in other nations.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the five projects that will share £23 million in funding from it's healthy ageing challenge.

Carers UK will be involved in the Tribe project, led by Bronze Labs, which will use technology to address national care inequality at the local level. This comprises a digital platform that can both map and predict care ‘dark patches’ where home care provision is failing. It will also recruit and upskill people in areas of low economic activity and high public service demand so they can create micro businesses to provide care.

Carers UK has today launched a new emotional support service for unpaid carers to help combat isolation and the unrelenting toll of the pandemic.

  • More than a third (35%) of people caring unpaid for family members or friends feel unable to manage their caring role
  • 72% of carers have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic
  • Carers Week charities call on Government to give back to carers and fund breaks
  • Charity Carers UK launches blueprint to help companies and services support millions of customers with caring responsibilities
  • Suite of resources for carers to help manage services and put in place Power of Attorney

 Responding to the Queen's Speech on 11th May 2021, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Until this Government sets out concrete measures for social care reform the reality for millions of families is that they have no choice but to take on more and more care for their older or disabled relatives, costing them their livelihoods, relationships and at the expense of their own physical and mental health.

“Unpaid carers couldn’t be clearer: they are worn out and overwhelmed. 81% have been providing more care for relatives during the pandemic and 64% haven’t been able to take any breaks whatsoever. A huge majority (78%) have seen their loved ones’ health deteriorate.

“Without England’s millions of unpaid carers our health and social care systems would have collapsed in the last year. Carers desperately need a light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst Government has committed to social care reform proposals being brought forward, this must be delivered without any further delays. We need to see detailed plans for reform that make sure unpaid carers get the practical and financial support they need to care.”

On the Health and Care Bill:

“We were shocked that the NHS White Paper failed to mention unpaid carers at all and Government cannot not miss the opportunity again to recognise carers. Carers must be a core part of the upcoming bill. Carers UK wants to see a duty on the NHS to have regard to unpaid carers and to promote their health and wellbeing, to ensure carers are systematically identified, supported, and included throughout the NHS. Integration across health and social care can only work if unpaid carers are visible, recognised, and counted.”

On Employment:

“We are disappointed that the Government has failed to bring forward the Employment Bill included in the 2019 Queen’s Speech and their manifesto commitment to introduce Carer’s Leave. With an ageing population and the impact of the pandemic on families, more of us will become unpaid carers at some point in our lifetime and we must put in place measures that ensure people can juggle work and care. We are still waiting for the Government response to the consultation on Carer’s Leave and need to see concrete plans about how this will be taken forward.”

The UK charity supporting people caring unpaid for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends has set out an ambitious direction of travel to make life better for unpaid carers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a disproportionate impact on carers, with the majority providing many more hours of care at home with limited practical support. Caring through the pandemic has taken a significant toll on carers’ health and financial stability as they have struggled to access services and take the breaks from caring they needed.  

The strategy, Vision 2025, sets out the charity’s three main goals for the next five years:

  • to create a society that requires carers to be treated equally in all aspects of their lives
  • to connect carers so that no one has to care alone
  • to halve the time it takes for carers to recognise themselves as carers and get the support they need.

Adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic, Carers UK’s strategic plan is ambitious in its aims for carers but also encompasses flexibility to ensure it can continue to support them during a turbulent period.

The charity’s focus will be split over three core pillars: Equality, Support and Recognition for carers, which will be underpinned by measuring impact and generating income.

  • New research shows unpaid carers over 55 find it harder to be active - despite wanting to be fitter
  • Lower activity levels see carers in poorer mental and physical health

Unpaid carers over the age of 55 face significant challenges being physically active despite wanting to be fitter, new research by charity Carers UK shows.

The barriers to being physically active are leaving carers in poorer health than the general population.

Funded by Sport England the study, which focused on the experiences of people over 55 with unpaid caring responsibilities, found that they are less active than other adults over 55. Nearly half (46%) of carers are inactive, compared with 33% of adults in this age bracket.

Three quarters (76%) of carers said they are not able to do as much physical exercise as they’d like. The main barriers are:

  • not having the time to take part in physical activity (88%)
  • not being motivated (71%)
  • not being able to afford the costs (67%)
  • and not having anyone to go with (59%).

Disabled carers, those juggling a job with caring, and carers who are struggling financially were all less likely to do as much physical exercise as they would like to do.

Insufficient or poor quality replacement care for the person they’re looking after meant some felt they couldn’t take a break from their caring role.

Despite the challenges there is strong appetite amongst carers to be more active, with 87% agreeing with the statement ‘I would like to be fitter than I am’.

  • 400,000 NHS England staff also have an unpaid caring role for a relative or friend
  • Carers UK calls on UK employers to identify and support increasing number of unpaid carers in their workforces

A ground-breaking question in the most recent NHS’ staff survey has found that one in three of the health service’s employees is also an unpaid carer.

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe with over 1.2 million staff. This new finding suggests that more than 400,000 of its workers are juggling their job with an unpaid caring role for a relative or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

National charity Carers UK is highlighting the increasing number of workers with unpaid caring responsibilities and the need for employers to support them to stay in work.

Previous polling by the charity carried out in 2019 found 1 in 5 of the NHS workforce was also an unpaid carer. The survey result shows there are far more staff providing unpaid care than previously thought.

Further research undertaken for Carers Week 2020 indicated that at the height of the pandemic as many as 2.8 million additional workers in the UK took on a new caring role for a loved one.

In response to the national vaccine supply profile over April, NHS England has made changes to the National Booking System as of today, 1st April. The self-elective routes currently available to carers who are unknown to the health and care systems will no longer be available. Instead, carers who are eligible and haven’t been called forward are being asked to contact their GP practice to be assessed and registered as a carer, and subsequently will be offered a Covid-19 vaccination.

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