Background to developing the Commissioning for Carers principles

How we collected evidence and examples of what works

The Commitments to Carers, published in May 2014, was informed by the first national listening exercise with carers to understand what was important to carers. From this work the following eight themes were identified:

  1. Raising the profile of carers
  2. Education, training and information
  3. Service development
  4. Person-centred, well-coordinated care
  5. Primary care
  6. Commissioning support
  7. Partnership links
  8. NHS England as an employer

Under the theme of commissioning support, we wanted to progress from commitments towards focusing on the services that support carers and identifying the practices that work well for commissioners, carers and others. To do this two related activities were taken forward by NHS England, NHS Improving Quality and Royal College of General Practitioners.

Building the evidence base

A call for case studies was issued through the carers’ organisations, NHS England regional teams, and the RCGP GP Champions for Carers. From this call, over 50 case studies were received including initiatives from GP practices across England.

The case studies covered a wide spectrum of services provided by the NHS, social care and the non-statutory sector with many being jointly commissioned. Some services are provided at minimal or no additional cost while others require an investment to achieve a benefit in the longer term. A few of the case studies include valuable independent evaluations to measure impact and outcomes.

Evidence Summits

To help gather and review the evidence, four evidence summits were held jointly by NHS England, NHS IQ and RCGP. A total of 314 people participated across the four summits and delegates included commissioners, acute and community service providers, carers and carer organisations, community pharmacies, Health and Well Being Boards, local authority and primary care. The summits considered examples of best practice from within each region and addressed questions such as how best to commission services for carers.

Evidence was also gathered from a Young Carers Call to Action event held on 30 October 2014 in London.

Supported by these activities, ten Commissioning for Carers Principles were identified to support commissioning necessary to achieve the best outcomes using the evidence received. These were:

  1. Think Carer, Think Family; Make Every Contact Count
  2. Support what works for carers, share and learn from others
  3. Right care, right time, right place for carers
  4. Measure what matters to carers
  5. Support for carers depends on partnership working
  6. Leadership for carers at all levels
  7. Train staff to identify and support carers
  8. Prioritise carers’ health and wellbeing
  9. Invest in carers to sustain and save
  10. Support carers to access local resources