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Fact sheet

White Paper Policy Briefing

The Government's White Paper on Health and Social Care was published in February 2006 and as it contained improvements to health and care policies across England and Wales, these will have an impact on the lives of carers.

We submitted our recommendations following the consultative Green Paper on Independence, Well Being and Choice, based on the following themes:

  • Better health, independence and well-being (for service users)
  • More responsive services and better co-ordination between health and social services at local level
  • Better support for those with the greatest need to live independently
  • More services available closer to the community

We outlined below the key recommendations we would like to see addressed within the White Paper or via its implementation.

1. Better health, independence and well being (for service users)

1.1 Of the six million UK family carers, 1.2 million provide 50 plus hours of care per week. The Trust would like to see recognition of this crucial role

1.2 Research shows that carers health is adversely affected by the caring role and that in some instances carers should be recognised as having a dual role as patient and carer.

1.3 Economic well-being is significant for family carers as evidence indicates that many carers are caught in a poverty trap. Added to this are the statistics which suggest that carers face many barriers to employment if undertaking heavy end caring responsibilities. The Carers' Allowance, which is designed to help, is lowest of the income replacement benefit and ceases at pensionable age. The Trust's own work in supporting carers through Carers Relief and Carers Breaks shows an urgent need for funding household equipment and aids.

1.4 The provision of specific support services (including training for carers) is an important preventative measure in maintaining the health of family carers.

2. More responsive services and better co-ordination between Health and Social Services at local level

2.1 Carers need to be recognised as 'Partners in Care' in both primary and intermediate care.

2.2 Information services are vital and to assist this process, The Trust is embarking on a partnership with NHS Direct to develop an algorithm to identify and signpost carers.

2.3 Carers need to be involved at early stage hospital discharge planning to prevent re-admission and ensure the necessary support resources are in place.

2.4 Information sharing across health and social care services will be improved by the proposed Single Assessment Process which, if it is included, will be welcomed.

2.5 Systems for monitoring, identifying and referral of those with a caring role at the point of entry to health service (ie GPs) should be in place as recommended by the National Carers Strategy 1999 and the General Medical Services (GMS) contract.

3. Better support for people with the greatest need to live independently

3.1 Consideration needs to be given further developing brokering services (in terms of the carer's role in administering direct payments on behalf of disabled service-users) to monitor and prevent increasing levels of stress.

3.2 Take up of Direct Payments for Carers Services is low and is linked to the 'postcode lottery' in relation to Carers' Assessments. It is recommended therefore that Carers' Assessments are undertaken unilaterally.

3.3 Carers need to have a recognised role and be consulted in person-centred planning and individualised budgets.

4. More services available closer to the community

4.1 For carers to achieve significant improvement to health, it is anticipated that an extra three hours of help is needed. More resourcing is needed to assist with the delivery of a range of flexible care packages (including domiciliary and emergency [respite] services) as it was shown during a recent Carers Health Survey that carers received on average 2.1 hours of statutory-funded help a week with a further 2.1 hours self-funded.