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Tailored digital resources to support unpaid carers to be rolled out through NHS

04 November 2021

Today, at Carers UK’s State of Caring conference, plans to provide new digital resources to support unpaid carers were announced which will see them gaining free access to a range of tools from 1 December 2021.

The Digital Resource for Carers, developed by leading national charity Carers UK, is an online platform that hosts a wealth of resources for carers to help them build resilience in their caring role – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information and support.

It includes e-learning, guides and comprehensive signposting, access to MyBackUp, a simple contingency planning tool for what might happen in an emergency, and Jointly, Carers UK’s care co-ordination app. The app helps a carer to manage care by being able to set up care circles, group messaging and to-do lists and other useful features to create a profile of the person being cared for, medication lists, calendar and more.

The Digital Resource for Carers will be available through Primary Care Networks in England, giving carers access free of charge to this invaluable resource through their GP or community health professional.

There has been a drive to identify carers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Digital Resource for Carers gives them something tangible and practical to offer the increasing numbers of carers on their lists who need support.

The need for support for unpaid carers is significant. The GP Patient Survey suggests that 17% of the population are unpaid carers, but Carers UK’s research suggests this could be even higher at 11.5 million in England as a result of the pandemic, as millions of people became unpaid carers virtually overnight.

Unpaid carers have had a particularly difficult time – with 81% of carers taking on more care because the needs of the person they care for has increased. The GP Patient survey shows that carers health is significantly worse than non-carers and the pandemic has taken its toll physically and mentally on carers.

Carers UK’s research with thousands of carers found their top priorities were information and advice, how to manage care and how to plan for emergencies. This is one of carers’ greatest fears during the pandemic – what happens if I’m unable to care.

Helping carers to contingency plan will also help the NHS in a number of ways.   Getting support earlier, getting the right information to care safely and well also helps carers resilience, by improving their own health, helping them juggle work and care and get support at the right time.  Carers UK’s State of Caring research with carers found there is much greater potential for tailored digital support within the NHS to support carers.

Announcing the roll-out at Carers UK’s State of Caring conference with leading professionals supporting carers across the health, social care and voluntary sectors,

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and National Medical Director of Primary Care for the NHS, said: 

“We know that many carers have taken on extra responsibilities during the pandemic, so I am delighted that the NHS is able to offer them more support alongside Carers UK.

“The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme has allowed us to work more closely with unpaid carers, and we can now ensure they have all the information they need to plan their caring role.”

Madeleine Starr MBE, Director of Business Development and Innovation, Carers UK said:

“We are delighted that these resources are being made available to carers through their GP practices and that they will be free to access from 1 December 2021.  The pandemic has created a huge demand for information and advice from carers and often they feel at a loss trying to work through the maze of information when they have little time and are often exhausted.

“Providing digital resources in one place is a really accessible and tailored way of giving carers support at a time when they really need it and it’s preferred by many carers. Digital resources can also support local and national advice services which are often overstretched.

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