What the Care Act means for carers in England
Carers Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges that carers face. At Marie Curie we know that the challenges of caring for someone living with a terminal illness are often made more difficult by that fact that many carers simply do not receive the support they need.
The Queen’s Speech last month confirmed that benefits for carers and disabled people will be exempt from the planned freeze on benefits. However, there are still concerns that cuts to social care, and funding issues within the NHS, will push the burden further onto carers. There is, however hope on the horizon.
The Care Act, introduced by the Coalition Government, includes a number of changes that aim to ensure that more carers are recognised and receive the support they need to continue caring. As of April this year, all carers are now entitled to a carers’ assessment and, if they meet the national eligibility criteria, their local authority must discuss with them how they will meet their needs and provide appropriate support. Support will be provided to carers through a personal budget, with money given directly to the carer for them to purchase whatever services they need.
This can be spent on a variety of things, from respite care to help carers focus on their own wellbeing, to help with the housework, or even a gym membership to ensure that the carer remains healthy and active. Local authorities will have a responsibility to provide information and advice about the services that provide care and support, including services for carers. They will also have to make sure that they have identified all the carers in their local area who might need support and make sure that their needs are fully met.
The Care Act is definitely a step towards ensuring that carers are better equipped to deal with the challenges of caring and further positive changes may be on the way. The Queen’s Speech also made reference to continuing plans to bring health and social care in England closer together. While the results of these plans are currently uncertain, they could bring benefits for carers in terms of delivering more support and enabling easier access to services.