The Care Act swings into action (and we still care)

Sarah Benger, Senior Policy Analyst (@Mac_PolicyDept)

Today is a big day – and it isn’t about the General Election.

Today, the Care Act comes into force. It is an Act that overhauls social care legislation in England for the first time in 60 years. An Act that received strong cross party support. An Act that affords extra rights to carers.

For the first time, carers will have the same legal right to a needs assessment and support as those that they care for. Local authorities will also have general responsibilities towards their residents, including carers, such as keeping them safe, supporting their wellbeing and providing good information about local support services.

And for Macmillan, it is an important milestone in our Do you care? campaign.

As the Care Bill passed through Parliament, we lobbied to make sure that the Act recognised the need for local authorities and health bodies to work together. Because we know that there’s a major hurdle that stops many carers from accessing support: identification.

Mcareers-01 (2)ost people caring for someone with cancer don’t see themselves as a ‘carer’. As Lisa told us, after supporting her fiancé Luke who had cancer, ‘I didn’t really consider myself his carer. I just thought of myself as his fiancé. As far as I was concerned, he wasn’t well so I was looking after him.’

This means that people like Lisa will sometimes need help to know that services are available to them. And that their own health and wellbeing is important, despite the tendency to place their loved one’s needs first.

Health professionals are really well placed to do this, yet many aren’t identifying carers when they may have the chance. At least 70% of carers come into contact with health professionals while they are caring, often while accompanying the person they care for. Yet only 1 in 10 carers is identified by health professionals in hospitals, and just 1 in 7 is identified by a GP. [1]

So, welcome, Care Act. We have high hopes for you.

Statutory guidance under the Care Act sets out the need for health bodies to work with local authorities, particularly to identify carers with unmet support needs.

But we know that you alone aren’t enough to make sure every carer gets the support they need. Therefore the campaign must go on (see our policy report for more).

Caring for someone with cancer? We can help you.

Working with carers? We can help you.

[1] Carers Week. Prepared to care? Exploring the impact of caring onpeople’s lives. 2013.

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