NHS England has renewed its commitment to improving the quality of life for the country’s hidden army of young and adult carers.
The 5.5 million unpaid carers in England make a critical contribution not only to loved ones, neighbours and friends, but to the sustainability of the NHS. To make this contribution, carers often make great sacrifices to support the people they look after.
NHS England today launched Commissioning for Carers: Principles and Resources to Support Young and Adult Carers at an annual accountability event in London with delegates from carers organisations, commissioners, health and care practitioners and other partners and stakeholders.
With input from carers themselves, leading charities, and partner organisations, NHS England has identified and developed ten principles that will help commissioners to deliver the care and support carers need.
The work includes the latest research, case studies and best practice that were collected at four regional evidence summits held across England.
The principles are:
- Think Carer, Think Family; Make Every Contact Count
- Support what works for carers, share and learn from others
- Right care, right time, right place for carers
- Measure what matters to carers
- Support for carers depends on partnership working
- Leadership for carers at all levels
- Train staff to identify and support carers
- Prioritise carers’ health and wellbeing
- Invest in carers to sustain and save
- Support carers to access local resources
This work forms part of NHS England’s Commitments to Carers, published on 7 May, and has been undertaken in partnership with NHS Improving Quality (NHSIQ) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). A suite of products has been developed that will help commissioners and practitioners to deliver appropriate support for carers. These products are listed below.
The NHS Five Year Forward View commits the NHS to find new ways to support carers, to build on the new rights created by the Care Act and to help the most vulnerable carers – the approximately 225,000 young carers and the 110,000 carers who are aged over 85.
Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Improving the Quality of Life of People with Long Term Conditions, said: “Personally and from previous work as a GP, I know at first hand the benefits that unpaid carers –wives, husbands, children, friends and neighbours – have for the people they look after as well as the daily challenges they face. This is particularly true for people with long term conditions, who tend to be heavy users of the health service, but likely to spend less than 1% of their time in contact with health professionals. The rest of the time they, their carers and their families manage on their own.
“To deliver personalised care, services need to support families, carers and communities by promoting wellbeing and independence as key outcomes of care; and recognise that patients, their families and carers are often ‘experts by experience.”
Dame Philippa Russell, Chair of the Standing Commission on Carers, said: “As a family of carers of 50 years, I know that the well-being of my husband, son and indeed myself depend crucially on strong partnerships with a range of health professionals. The Commissioning for Carers Principles underline a new and welcome ‘concordat’ between patients, carers and a range of health and other professionals. They not only recognise and value the contribution of England’s millions of carers but they also respect our expertise, knowledge and commitment as ‘expert partners in care.”
The suite of products that have been produced as part of NHS England’s Commitments to Carers initiative are:
Case studies on effective carers services
Four regional Carers Evidence Summits were undertaken by NHS IQ, RCGP and NHS England in July 2014 to identify areas of good practice and to inform the development of commissioning support principles. In total there are over 50 case studies available and can be found on NHSIQ’s website.
Commissioning for carers principles
This work identifies 10 high level principles and a self-assessment questionnaire to support commissioners to invest in carers in ways that have been identified from the evidence summits (see above). This will support carers to provide better care and to stay well themselves, which will improve the lives of those they care for and result in better use of NHS resources.
Supporting carers: A social impact evaluation
RCGP has worked with Baker Tilly on a piece of research into the social return on investment which comes when CCGs invest in carer support services. Focusing on various examples where services are working well for carers, Baker Tilly have evaluated the effect that this has on the lives of carers and therefore the effect that it has on cashable savings which a CCG could make over the course of six years. This report will be available shortly.
Caring for Carers Hub
The Caring for Carers Hub, which has been developed by the RCGP, provide information about living well as a carer alongside local information about services, support groups and resources to assist primary care to more effectively support carers and the people they care for. The hub ensures that important national resources, like national helplines and disease-specific resources are available at every local hub. Local information is also available, such as local carers support services and groups. The hub will give users easy access to everything they need to know about carers at both national and local levels in an easy-to-use, free format.