The Department for Health and Social Care has launched a cross-government action plan to support unpaid carers, with strategies to raise the profile of carers and improve their employment opportunities.
The Carers Action Plan, launched on 5 June, states that the department will fund a project on actions to promote best practice for local government, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and commissioners of carer breaks and respite care.
The programme is structured around certain themes, including employment and wellbeing, recognising and supporting carers in the wider community, and building research and evidence to improve outcomes for carers.
Together for Short Lives welcomes the plan, particularly its strategies around respite. Research conducted by Julia’s House Children’s Hospice and Bournemouth University has shown short breaks for respite to be crucial for carers of children who need palliative care. We hope that the Carers Action Plan works towards providing guidance to NHS clinical commissioning groups, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and local authorities on the commissioning of short breaks.
Barbara Gelb, CEO of Together for Short Lives, responded to the announcement of the plan: “I welcome the steps and commitments outlined in the government’s action plan. We know that short breaks can have a hugely beneficial impact on children with life-limiting conditions and their families. What we need now is clarity and consistency in commissioning, so that all of these families have access to these crucial short breaks.”
The action plan also announces funding for a project to support parent carers to navigate the transition from child to adult services as their child approaches the age of 18. Barbara added, “The funding allocated to support the transition from child to adult services is a vital step in mitigating the transition ‘cliff-edge’ that young people with life-limiting conditions and their families face. The action plan is an opportunity to remove some of the challenges and trepidation of this transition.”
The plan draws on responses to the 2016 Carers strategy: call for evidence and will be implemented over the next two years.