Carers UK’s State of Caring 2016 report shows that, one year on from the implementation of the Care Act 20142 – designed to improve support for carers – carers in England are still struggling to get the support they need to care well, maintain their own health, balance work and care, and have a life of their own outside of caring.
Carers’ experiences show that the positive rights outlined in the Care Act are not matching up with reality. Growing numbers of carers believe their quality of life will get worse over 2016 (54%), despite the Care Act being in force, compared with expectations last year (50%) before the legislation was introduced.
Under the new legislation, all carers are entitled to a timely assessment of their needs. Yet, shockingly, 1 in 3 carers (29%) who reported having an assessment in the past year had to wait six months or longer for it. More alarming still, over one-third of carers (39%) looking after someone at the end of their life had to wait six months or more for an assessment.
Not only are carers facing barriers to getting an assessment, but they told Carers UK that the assessments they have received are, consistently, not fit-for-purpose. Of carers who received an assessment in the past year:
- 2 in 3 (68%) felt their need to have regular breaks from caring was either not considered or not thoroughly considered
- Only 1 in 3 (35%) felt that support to look after their own health was thoroughly considered
- 3 in 4 working age carers (74%) did not feel that the support needed to juggle care with work was sufficiently considered
- 1 in 5 (21%) said they received little or no helpful information or advice, and felt they didn’t know where to go for support with caring
These findings are particularly stark in the wider context of reducing support services and changes to social security. Carers UK’s survey revealed further evidence that a reduction in public services is hitting carers and their families hard. 1 in 3 carers (34%) reported a change in the amount of care and support services they or the person they care for receive. Of these, over half (59%) saw a reduction in care and support services due to cost or availability; this includes 13% who said a service was closed with no replacement offered.
A full copy of the report is available on the Carers UK website.