As Carers Trust CEO, Gail Scott-Spicer was delighted to see the Care Act, and the Children and Families Act come into force in 2015. As our Carers Strategy call for evidence enters its final weeks, Gail reflects on this consolidation of new and existing rights and how she and her organisation continue to work with government and sector partners to improve carer support.
The two Acts together give carers such important new and consolidated rights. We’d worked hard with colleagues in the voluntary sector, in Whitehall and in Parliament to make sure that this legislation was the best it could possibly be for carers.
We were concerned however, about whether these new rights will have the impact on the ground for carers that we all hope for.
This is why we formed a commission to find out how the Care Act is working for carers, a year on. Working with the panel, we held oral evidence days with experts (including our Network Partners – local carers support services), and heard from over 800 people in a survey (including over 600 carers).
The report Care Act for carers: One year on published 4 July 2016 showed that there are some carers who are getting good support under the Care Act, and that there is reason to continue to be optimistic about the potential of the Act.
It is the only time in the year when I am asked about me … Having that opportunity and someone who understands, without me explaining has meant something. A carer
The “Good practice box” we published as part of the appendices to the report shows examples my fellow panel members and I were particularly interested in. These include a partnership between Coventry City Council and Carers Trust Heart of England, at Coventry Central Library.
This helps more carers by identifying them and offering support with their caring role, putting them in touch with local third sector services who can help, as well as providing an everyday, non-stigmatising, location to talk to carers. We know that too many carers don’t see themselves as carers.
This adds to the solutions already being developed, collated in NHS England’s excellent Carers Toolkit.
It’s also fair to say that the new rights aren’t being felt everywhere yet, and of course it’s early days after such a major piece of legislation. Our report found too many carers were unaware of their rights. More practitioners need to understand that a carer’s right to support is independent of the person they care for.
Young carers and parent carers need to be properly supported at transition and during assessment. Local authorities need support to implement prevention, personalisation and market-shaping for carers.
The new Carers Strategy will play an important part in improving carers’ support, and we want to work with colleagues in national and local government – who we know share Carers Trust’s vision of a better reality for unpaid carers - to make sure that in challenging times, support for carers is the best it can be.