Nearly a third of carers had to wait more than six months to have their situation assessed, potentially leaving them without support, a report by charity Carers UK has found.
State of Caring 2016 was released to examine the progress of the Care Act 2014, which is aimed at ensuring that carers have access to support where it is needed. It found that 39% of carers looking after someone at the end of their life had to wait six months or more for an assessment. Additionally, 22% had to request an assessment for themselves in 2014/15, instead of having one offered to them, as the Care Act requires. Alarmingly, 20% carers providing 50 hours or more support a week are receiving no support whatsoever with their caring role.
‘The Care Act is a powerful piece of legislation, for the very first time giving carers the same right to support as the person they look after. But one year on from the Care Act coming into force and carers’ lives have not improved – in fact, compared with last year, more carers believe their quality of life will get worse in the next year,’ said Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK. ‘If the Care Act is to deliver on its promise to improve support for carers, the government must set-out a clear expectation of when carer’s assessments should be carried out, alongside investment in the care and support services that are desperately needed to backup families.’
The report also looked at the effects of caring on lifestyle. More than two thirds of carers felt their need to have regular breaks from caring was either not considered or not thoroughly considered. Only 35% felt that support to look after their own health was considered, while 74% did not feel that the support needed to juggle care with work was sufficiently considered. Additionally, 21% said they received little or no helpful information or advice, and felt they didn’t know where to go for support with caring.
‘Caring is not an issue that we, as a society, can afford to ignore. After all, caring will touch each and every one of our lives – whether we provide care for a loved one or need care ourselves,’ added Ms Herklots. ‘With this in mind, the government’s new Carers’ Strategy, which is currently being developed, is a vital opportunity to ensure caring, and the issues that matter most to carers, are at the heart of policies, programmes and legislation across government.’
State of Caring 2016 was the collection of results from the State of Caring survey carried out by Carers UK. This year there were 6149 respondents resulting in the largest survey to date.