Carers need more support to cope with stress

NICE has published new draft guidance which aims to improve the well-being of adults who provide unpaid care, advising practitioners to encourage carers to discuss supportive working arrangements with their employers.

The recommendations, which emphasise what local authorities and health and social care practitioners can do to support carers, encourage practitioners to identify people who are unpaid carers so they can direct them to the appropriate financial, social and emotional support that is available. Supportive working arrangements may include flexible hours or providing a private space to take personal phone calls.

The guideline also calls on health and social care commissioners to ensure replacement care services are available locally so carers can stay in, enter or return to work, education or training.

Approximately 6.5 million carers in the UK are unpaid with three million balancing work with caring responsibilities. It’s estimated that unpaid care saves the UK £132 billion a year in care costs. However, a recent Carers UK report found that more than two thirds of carers are using their own income and savings to cover the cost of care and two in five say they struggle to make ends meet.

Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Many carers are not aware of the help available to them, therefore it’s important that health and social care practitioners are at the forefront of identifying and supporting them. Caring for a loved one can bring a whole host of responsibilities and worries. This guidance hopes to address those concerns and ensure that carers feel supported enough to provide the best possible care for those they look after.”

Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Our care system could not survive without the contribution of unpaid carers who provide vital support for thousands of people every day. Councils fully recognise the vital role of unpaid carers and supported or assessed more than 360,000 unpaid carers in 2017/18, and will carefully consider these guidelines and recommendations.

“The new Prime Minister and his government needs to use the forthcoming Spending Review to plug the £3.6 billion funding gap facing adult social care by 2025 so that councils can provide adequate support for all unpaid carers and fulfil the ambition and intent of the Care Act to ensure caring doesn’t impact on a carers’ health and well-being.”