The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is a remarkable £119 billion per year. This latest figure (2011) is 37% higher than the 2007 estimate and equivalent to £2.3 billion per week (Buckner & Yeandle, 2011).
What do we know?
The economic contribution of family and friends caring for people with long-term conditions, including age-related frailty, exceeds the total spent on the NHS each year.
The £175 million expected from central government to fund support for carers represents just a tiny fraction of the amount saved that would otherwise be spent on caring for vulnerable people.
Facts, figures and trends
Figure 1: Age of unpaid carers
Source: Office for National Statistics
The majority of carers are between years of age 25-64. 70% of unpaid carers give between 1 to 19 hours of care per week. 11% give 20 to 49 hours and 19% give more than 50 hours (ONS, 2011).
National & local strategies (current best practices)
It is expected that the forthcoming Government’s Care and Support Bill will establish national eligibility criteria for both individuals and their carers. The bill places an emphasis on the role of family and carers during the assessment process and on the importance of achieving a balance between the individual’s well-being and that of any friends or relatives involved in caring for the individual.
Preventative Carers Services 2013/14
In partnership with Berkshire Carers Service, the Local Authority provides £65K per year in Carers Grant monies to carers for whom the Local Authority does not provide services to the cared for apart from equipment. Approximately 150 carers make applications each year with 87% receiving up to £500 for a break from caring role.
Berkshire Carers Service provides a wide range of advice and support to anyone who identifies his or herself as a carer of a person aged eighteen or over. There is a Carer's Information Pack with contact details for a broad range of local and national support for carers. Staff are available to assist carers to apply for Carers Allowance, and help the cared-for apply for Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. They can also refer carers to courses that can assist them in their caring role, for example lifting and handling training, and also support them to gain skills that will help them access further education or employment.
Adult Social Care, Health and Housing (ASCHH) hosts a Carers Issues Strategy Group whose members include a range of local and national carer’s organisations. This group is currently developing a Carers Forum that will enable carers to have a direct voice in the development of all future carers’ services.
Direct Support for Carers of People in Receipt of Support from Adult Social Care, Health and Housing (ASCHH) 2013/14
Family carers are at the heart of every individual's supported self-assessment with their needs and their support for the cared-for clearly accounted for. In addition, where a carer feels unable to talk fully about his or her needs as part of an individual's assessment of his or her own needs, a separate assessment is offered at a time and place convenient to the carer.
In both cases, support for the carer is included within a personal budget. This may involve respite, either within the person's home or in a residential or nursing home. However, it might also mean golf lessons, cinema tickets, a class in painting or mosaics, or a season ticket to a football club. Respite (sometimes referred to as time off) can mean something different to each carer. A personal budget can enable carers to determine for themselves what will help them as an individual to have a life of their own.
As part of an on-going commitment to carers, ASCHH also provides a scheme, in partnership with Berkshire Carers Service, called 40 Winks, which offers an overnight care service to allow an exhausted carer to have good night's sleep.
Young Carers 2013/14
With their consent, carers under eighteen are referred to Children's Social Care who, in partnership with the voluntary sector, provide a range of support for young carers including respite breaks and leisure activities, along with personal budgets to provide lap-tops or sports equipment that enables the young carer to have a life of his or her own.
What is this telling us?
Bracknell Forest has relatively robust support available to carers and is particularly strong in providing preventative services to people caring for those who are not yet known to social care.
What are the key inequalities?
Working age carers 25-64 represent the largest cohort within Bracknell Forest and this is the group most likely to suffer economic harm as a result of the need to provide care.
Whilst not captured within the 2011 Census data, Bracknell Forest has a growing BME population with the Nepalese community strongly represented. Family reunification means that people may struggle to care for older people and those with long-term conditions in unfamiliar surroundings and with limited knowledge of English.
Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations
Adopting Making it Real as a tool for helping adult and young carers alike would aid in ensuring that everyone within a family is listened to, respected and supported to have a life of his or her own.