News story legal challenge

15th July 2020 • Emma Cooper

A new report from Carers Trust highlights how older parent carers and ageing carers who face additional barriers to accessing services should be supported to prepare for a time when they are less able or unable to provide care.

The project, which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care through the Health and Wellbeing Alliance, also provides resources for carers, commissioners, providers and front line staff.

The main findings of the No Longer Able To Care report included:

  • The majority of carers are not currently being supported to plan for a future when they are less able or unable to care.
  • There is a wider lack of confidence in the social care system as a whole, meaning carers do not seek support.
  • Carers also face the problem of the lack of available social care – both for themselves and the person they care for. This leads to many carers picking up more caring responsibilities, to the detriment of their health and wellbeing.
  • Carers often feel too busy dealing with the day-to-day to think about planning for the future. Broader support for carers in the day-to-day challenges they face will enable services and individuals to better plan for the/their future.
  • Some carers are given support to prepare for a crisis where they are unable to care in the short term and for a limited time period. While this is a positive step, much more needs to be done to plan for the long-term future where the carer is unable to care.

The report also addressed trigger points for support. The trigger points that mean carers are less able or unable to care are not normally single events and include:

  • A change in the condition of the person they care for, meaning carers are less able to care.
  • Carers’ own health declining.
  • Carers’ own age.
  • Carers becoming physically unable to care.

Across the focus groups and surveys, there was a general distrust or lack of confidence in statutory services and the majority of participants had not had a Carer’s Assessment, despite it being their legal right under the 2014 Care Act. Findings included:

  • 59% had not had a Carer’s Assessment since the 2014 Care Act came in.
  • 36% had had a Carer’s Assessment.
  • 5% did not know whether they had had a Carer’s Assessment.
  • 51% knew they were eligible for another assessment once their circumstances changes
  • 90% had not had an assessment after their circumstances changed.

The report also suggests that conversations about emergency and contingency care plans should be easier to have since the coronavirus outbreak, which has put millions of carers under immense pressure during the crisis.

While emergency planning is important, planning for the long-term future is different. It may be one way of opening up that conversation but does not replace the need to plan for the long-term future with the carer and person with care needs.

The coronavirus emergency highlighted how important it was for carers to have contingency plans in place. Millions of carers needed to stay at home to socially distance themselves or to self-isolate during this crisis. However, we know that this led to carers probably having more caring responsibilities, or being unable to provide the care they usually did, either because they had contracted the virus or had symptoms, and were following Government advice to self-isolate.

The coronavirus crisis will highlight to many the need for emergency planning. An emergency plan would have helped those carers who had one, assuming local authorities, charities and any health organisations involved had the capacity to implement it. Conversations about emergency and contingency should be easier to open up now between staff and carers, and this conversation could be the basis for enabling carers to talk about longer-term plans when they are less able or unable to care.

Read the full report and access the resources here.