New guidance from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, in partnership with Carers UK, outlines how health and social care commissioners and providers can expand and improve regular breaks for families and friends who care for other adults.
Research by Carers UK shows 46% of unpaid carers were unable to get a break in the last five years, even though they wanted one. ‘Carers’ breaks: guidance for commissioners and providers’ calls for a whole-family approach to ensure that breaks are accessible, personalised and enjoyable for both the carer – and the person they care for.
Evidence and current practice indicate that there needs to be a wider choice of breaks available to better suit the varying needs of unpaid carers. Health and social care commissioners have a role to play in shaping the market, and providers should take a more innovative approach to develop a wide range of breaks, available at different times to suit carers. That may include residential respite, sitting services, through to holidays and support for carers and their families to participate in activities together
The guidance provides practice examples of innovative breaks that are highly valued by carers and families. Some draw on community assets and local business; others use technology to support breaks. Coproducing plans and services with carers and the people they care for is seen as a key success factor.
The guidance is accompanied by a series of films providing advice, information and reassurance to carers. Produced by Carers UK, the films feature carers sharing their experiences and tips, explaining why breaks are essential and how to get advice and support.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said:
As a society we can’t value the support carers provide for their loved ones highly enough. But we must not take their kindness for granted, and we must ensure their wellbeing is protected. Regular breaks are so essential and support carers to keep providing care, but we know that access and quality can be uneven. This guidance is part of our Carers Action Plan to improve the lives of carers and provides a clear framework, advice and examples of innovative practice for those who commission and run respite services. This will lead to tangible benefits for families and friends who provide or receive care, and complements our work through the Long Term Plan for the NHS to better identify and support carers across England.
Dame Philippa Russell who chaired the Reference Group which supported the development of the guidance, said:
Too many carers struggle to get a break that works for them and the person they support. Lack of information about rights and options, guilt, concerns about quality, and inflexible options can often get in the way. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This new guidance – plus the accompanying advice for carers – shows how it is possible to deliver accessible, enjoyable breaks for carers, their families and friends.