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Carers UK comments on the Government’s Plan for Digital Health and Social Care, published today, which sets out its vision for transforming health and care with digital technology.

29 June 2022

Carers UK today welcomed the Government’s investment plans in more digital means of support but warned that it still needed to go alongside broader support for unpaid carers and investment in social care if it’s to realise its full potential.

Carers UK’s State of Caring research with over 8,000 unpaid carers has shown that digital support has much greater possibilities for supporting unpaid carers.  42% of unpaid carers said that remote healthcare such as making appointments online or managing prescriptions digitally had made caring easier along with 60% of unpaid carers using remote monitoring services such as personal alarms, falls sensors and similar technology. Although 62% of unpaid carers providing substantial care responding to our survey did not use the NHS App, they also indicated there was much bigger potential in terms of being able to access care records and being identified as a carer.

Carers UK’s Jointly app is being explored as one intervention that NHS Trusts could give to unpaid carers to help them co-ordinate care amongst family members, local community, paid staff or just keep track of appointments and medication.  

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK said:

“There’s much greater potential for digital to make unpaid carers’ lives easier, as long as it is built on their priorities and by involving them.

“The NHS backlog is placing even more pressure on carers, who are already providing historically high levels of care, as they wait for vital treatment for their family members. Using digital health and care interventions can make caring easier and have huge growth potential, but we need to listen closely to carers designing systems and processes to deliver a better outcome for them and make sure we are not making caring harder for some. One in seven carers in our State of Caring survey said online health appointments had made caring more difficult. 

Helen added: “This funding, although welcome, must be matched by solid investment in social care and ensuring that carers are identified and given sufficient breaks. With carers’ ill-health topping their list of worries in our research for the first time, this serves as a warning that we’re on the brink of exhausting the very group of people whom the NHS relies on every day to provide care.”  

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