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Today marks the start of Carers’ Week which runs as an annual awareness campaign and recognises the crucial work carers do.
Carers can struggle for recognition and support from health professionals. And involving carers in decision-making and recognising their role as expert partners in care serves to benefit patients, carers and the NHS alike.
As well as raising awareness of the vital role of caring, Carers’ Week highlights the challenges carers face and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
Neil Churchill, NHS England’s Director for Improving Patient Experience, said: “In Carers’ Week last year I was invited to shadow a number of carers and understand the pressures they face in day to day life.
“One year on, I am pleased that we are commissioning services to make caring easier. But we have more to do to identify carers earlier and target support more effectively to stop them reaching crisis point.
“Evidence is mounting that by supporting carers, we can not only improve outcomes but also reduce emergency admissions and delay or even prevent the need for institutional care. The new models of care provide us with a brilliant opportunity to extend our ambitions for carers and demonstrate how, by targeting early intervention to those carers who need it, we can benefit patients, carers, the NHS and social care.”
NHS England works closely with organisations such as the Standing Commission on Carers, the Carers Trust, Carers UK and the Children’s Society to respond to and improve the experience of carers in relation to health services. In May 2014, NHS England published its Commitment to Carers, as well as a toolkit to support commissioners with commissioning carer support services.
This year, NHS England is focusing on building Carer Friendly Communities, which support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.
Jen Kenward, Head of Patient Experience and Carers Programme Lead, is today speaking at the Carer Friendly Communities Conference, being organised by Crossroads Care, and which marks the start of a range of activities to support Carers’ Week 2015.
The week will also see the publication of the Carers’ Checklist which has been co-designed with carers and which sets out how health and care services can support them in their caring role, as well as maintain their own health and well-being.
Later in the week we will hear from a carer and from Neil Churchill, NHS England Director of Patient Experience, about what Carers’ Week has meant to them. In addition, NHS England has been encouraging NHS organisations and staff to participate in local Carers Week activities.