Thursday, June 11, 2009

Young Carers Need Support Too

Ofsted report, children who care for their disabled parents are often unidentified, unsupported and without a voice.  Supporting young carers, has found that councils are not doing enough to identify and support young people who help to care for their disabled parents, according to a survey of eight council areas and 50 young carers.

Inconsistent joint working between councils and their partners, lack of awareness by some professionals, and families' reluctance to engage with service providers are among the key barriers in identifying and supporting young carers.

Young carers have the right for their needs to be assessed when an assessment or reassessment of their disabled parent takes place. However, the survey found none of the young carers visited were aware of their right.

Hopefully that is about to change with the launch of  the Carers Strategy One Year On - More Help For Carers.

A one-stop information and advice service for the unsung army of carers who look after ill, frail or disabled friends and relatives is officially launched.

The Carers Direct hotline will make England's 5 million carers' lives easier and reduce the time and stress of searching out essential advice.

Funded by £2.8 million a year, Carers Direct includes:

* Details of support available, including assessments, benefits, direct payments, individual budgets and time off.
* Help to maintain, leave or return to employment
* Help in education or training.
* Advice on how carers maintain or improve their social and emotional well-being and their physical and mental health.
* Access to health and social care for the person being cared for.
* How to access information about, and support from, health and social care services for the person being cared for.

The launch comes on the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Government's Carers Strategy. Since last year carers are being given more planned breaks and better information about their rights and the support available to them. Later this year, they will also receive more support to get or return to work.

Speaking at the launch of Carers Direct in Islington, Care Services Minister Phil Hope said:

"I know that carers' lives are often made unnecessarily difficult if they have to struggle to find the information, advice and support they need. I hope Carers Direct will put this right.

"I have huge respect and admiration for the 5 million carers in England, who do fantastic work every day. The Carers Strategy has already gone a long way to better support carers, but there is still a lot of work to do."

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People,  said:

"The Government wants to make sure carers get the help and support they need to overcome their barriers to work, fulfil their potential and build a better life for themselves and their families.

"The Carers Direct helpline will work hand in hand with our own information on the DirectGov website to ensure carers are given the help and support they need."

Carers Direct is complemented by Caring with Confidence ( a training course available to carers face-to-face, online and by distance learning.   Caring with Confidence inform carers of their rights, the services available to them and networks which might support them. The Department of Health is investing around £4.6 million a year into Caring with Confidence.

Other initiatives from the Carers Strategy being developed include:

* piloting a 'return-to-work' training entitlement of up to £500 for those who undertake more than five years of caring responsibilities, helping them to get the skills they need to get back into the labour market;
* enabling Jobcentre Plus to provide a range of new services to carers, such as better training for advisors on awareness of carers needs and displaying more information on vacancies offering flexible working;
* demonstrator sites to explore ways that local authorities and PCTs can help carers better by:
- providing more breaks for carers
- offering regular physical and mental health and wellbeing checks for carers
- supporting carers more effectively through the NHS, for example, by ensuring that the NHS considers carers' needs when booking and holding GP and hospital appointments
* helping local areas develop better support around families to protect young carers from excessive and harmful caring roles, and strengthening awareness and support for young carers across schools and among GPs.

Carers Direct comprises a website and 7 days a week helpline freephone 0808 802 0202.

Island Pulse, 10th June 2009

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