Carers’ breaks on the brink?

Posted on 01st March 2013 | in Community

Caring for a friend or relative can be exhausting and a break from duties can make a difference, helping the carer to continue. The 2011 Census shows that the number of unpaid carers in England and Wales has risen by more than 500,000 to 5.8million. Of these, more than 2million were giving 20 or more hours of care a week.

Carer breaks are a crucial element in safeguarding a carer’s physical and mental health, allowing them to continue with their caring role.
The government set requirements for Primary Care Trusts to publish plans and budgets on how they were using the money to support carers. A random 50 PCTs across England were surveyed, looking at whether they had met the requirements. North of Tyne (Northumberland) PCT was one of just 12 from the sample of 50 that fully met the requirements.

Sandi Downing, Chief Executive of Carers Northumberland, said: “The rise in the official number of carers means that there is a need for even more support for carers to be made available”.

From April 2013, Care Commissioning Groups will be responsible for planning, commissioning and delivering services. Carers Trust has launched a series of recommendations to ensure that carers’ needs are taken into account by CCGs: including working with all agencies to continue to develop support for carers.

Priorities include identifying clear and accessible ways to present information on supporting carers and allocating funding for carers services and carers breaks. The Commissioning Board should build on commitments to support carers in the NHS Mandate and give clear guidance on the ways help for carers can be achieved.

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