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Fact sheet

Carers’ Strategy 2008-18, refreshed 2010

The Carers’ Strategy published in 2008 has five objectives for carers to be achieved by 2018:

  • Recognised and supported as an expert care partner
  • Enjoying a life outside caring
  • Not financially disadvantaged
  • Mentally and physically well; treated with dignity
  • Children will be thriving, protected from inappropriate caring roles.

The Coalition Government refreshed this strategy retaining these aims with a priority area of supporting carers to remain healthy. A summary of this refreshed Carers’ Strategy is here (183 KB). In brief, key health issues were:

  • An additional £400m for the NHS to improve support for carers
  • Additional resources to train GPs and other health professionals on carer awareness
  • Skills for Care & Skills for Health will publish a learning and training framework on supporting carers
  • Expansion of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme for carers.

The guide produced by Skills for Care and Skills for Health is available here:

Carers’ Strategy Demonstrator Sites

25 areas were chosen to develop innovative services for carers focussing on three areas: breaks; health checks; and better NHS support. Each site had a pilot lasting 18 months up to March 2011. A summary of the report evaluating these pilots is available here. (264 KB)

General findings & recommendations

  • Pilots advised that involving carers in the design, delivery and evaluation of services made these more effective
  • Local partnerships should consider resourcing local voluntary sector organisations to deliver well-being checks for carers.
  • Every GP practice should be encouraged to identify a lead worker for carer support, who can assist in carer identification.
  • All staff who interact with carers, in hospitals, GP practices, local authorities and in the voluntary sector should be trained to consider how caring responsibilities can impact on a carer’s health.

Breaks pilots – findings & recommendations

  • 39% of carers surveyed in the pilots had not previously taken a break from their caring role at all, and a further 41% had only ever taken a break of a few hours, and not overnight.
  • The most common ways carers advised how they became aware of the breaks’ service was through a Carers’ Centre (32%) and then social services (20%).
  • Over four months, 39% of carers who had not received a break showed a significant deterioration in their well-being, compared to 29% who had received a one-off break and 24% who had received on-going support.
  • Torbay’s pilot used the GHQ-12 (General Health Questionnaire) before and after providing the service to carers and reported a highly significant reduction in distress amongst carers during the time they received the service

Health Check pilots – findings & Recommendations

  • Four months after a health check, 28% of carers surveyed felt the way they looked after their own health had improved; 23% were taking more regular exercise.
  • 80 of 117 carers (68%) who had received a health check in Camden scored improved well-being on the WHO-5 index, while a comparator group of 101 carers showed no significant improvement over the same time period.
  • Devon reported that 66% of the health and wellbeing checks (1,644/2,510) led to further NHS referrals including GP and practice nurse appointments, phlebotomy, stop smoking service, a screening programme, health trainers, community nursing, check-ups for dentistry, opticians, and audiology

NHS Support Sites

  • Pilots offering hospital based carer support reached large numbers of carers, more than those attempting to identify carers in primary care settings
  • Bolton’s pilot led by the NHS Foundation Trust developed a carer awareness training course which is now delivered as part of their mandatory induction for all new staff
  • In Halton and St Helens, a Carers’ Centre staff member was based in the hospital with an NHS e-mail address and this improved co-ordination and responsiveness to the carers’ needs