Care Act for carers: One year on. Lessons learned, next steps

Burstow, Paul (2016) Care Act for carers: One year on. Lessons learned, next steps. Project Report. Carers Trust, London. Full text available

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Have carers noticed any difference since the Care Act (2014) came in? That is the question this report tries to answer. The answer? Not yet. Carers provide the bulk of care in our country. Three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives. Without carers our NHS and social services would be overwhelmed. But many carers pay a heavy price for their caring role in both their health and their wealth. We were told by many of those who contributed to our work that the Care Act is an important piece of social reform but its potential is far from being realised. The Care Act puts carers on an equal footing with those who have care needs. This parity in law is new, some even say revolutionary. Councils have a duty to promote the wellbeing of carers and to prevent burn out and crisis. What we found is a mixed picture. There are beacons of good practice, but there is plenty of darkness too. For many of the carers who responded to Carers Trust call for evidence the response was stark, no, the Act had made no difference. Indeed, for many it was news to them that there were new rights. Some told us that it was too early to review the impact of the Act. We disagree. This was never going to be a full-blown evaluation but it is a first snapshot, a baseline, that can be used to measure progress. It also offers the opportunity to provide encouragement and warnings about the ongoing implementation of the legislation. We heard during the course of our evidence gathering that the 1948 National Assistance Act, which the Care Act replaced, took almost a decade to become embedded and supplant the Poor Law mind-set of many charged with its implementation. The same can be said today about the Care Act. More work is needed to impress upon those responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Act that business as usual is not good enough. The Care Act raises the bar. It expects decision-makers to look at the wellbeing of the carer and where necessary take a whole family approach. 3 We found evidence that when it comes to assessment the law is either poorly understood or ignored. Too often it appears that carers are fobbed off with a one-off payment as if that discharges the obligation to promote their wellbeing. We remain optimistic about the transformative potential of the Care Act. This report should be essential reading for Directors of Adult and Children’s Services, and Directors of Public Health. It has messages for the NHS too. Above all it is about making improvements for carers themselves.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information: Details of the Commission Panel members and advisers, and Terms of Reference may be found at The Care Act applies to England.
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Department/People: Honorary Staff

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