Unpaid carers and those requiring care are in line to benefit from innovative new projects backed by a £42.6 million fund announced by the Department for Health and Social Care today, as the government continues to deliver on its vision for social care reform.
The Accelerating Reform Fund will focus on trialling and expanding new approaches to providing care and improving services for unpaid carers and is part of the Department’s Innovation and Improvement Unit. This fund includes our commitment to invest up to an additional £25m to support unpaid carers.
It is intended to fund projects which support our 10-year vision for adult social care, which focuses on three objectives: that people have choice, control and support to live independent lives, people can receive outstanding quality and tailored care and support, and that people find adult social care fair and accessible.
Local authorities are invited to register their interest in partnership with others in their integrated care systems to fund local innovation projects, which will be evaluated for potential rollout across the country.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: I’m delighted to see the sector developing creative ways to move towards our ten-year vision for adult social care, and this funding is intended to help accelerate and grow these innovative approaches more widely.
Our selfless unpaid carers are often the unsung heroes of the care sector – which is why I’ve asked that they are at the heart of this funding, aimed at supporting locally-tailored projects that boost the quality, accessibility and independence of care.
Examples of projects include Shared Lives, a care and support service that matches people aged 16 and above who want to live independently in their community with Shared Lives carers. People move in with their Shared Lives carers and are supported within the context of the carer’s home and family. Support can vary depending on what suits the person, but can include temporary care and support, a day service, or longer-term overnight care.
An independent cost comparison of Shared Lives found that it has significantly lower costs for people with learning disabilities and people with mental ill health than other forms of regulated social care, such as residential care. Research by the Social Care Institute for Excellence found that Shared Lives can result in an average saving of £8,000 for people with mental health needs and £26,000 for people with learning disabilities.
More examples of innovation priorities, including case studies, are available here.
Kirsty McHugh, Carers Trust’s CEO, said: Carers Trust welcomes the focus in the Accelerating Reform Fund on the essential role that unpaid family carers play in our health and social care system. We know from our network of local carer organisations that innovation is already underway across the country.
We’re therefore looking forward to some fruitful collaborations between local authorities, local carer organisations and unpaid family carers themselves in the development and scaling of support which provide unpaid family carers with the help they desperately need.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, said: We’re pleased that the £25 million committed to unpaid carers is now in play – it will be vital in helping to establish innovative and supportive local practices that support unpaid carers’ needs.
With an estimated 12,000 people a day becoming unpaid carers, and a rise in the numbers providing more than 50 hours of care each week, this funding is really necessary.
We hope it paves the way forward for longer-term innovation and support that is focused on unpaid carers’ unique needs.
The fund will support local authorities to take forward projects relevant to their local needs, working collaboratively with local partners in their Integrated Care System regions, including the NHS, care providers and voluntary and community sector groups.
It will support at least two projects per region, with one of those having a particular focus on unpaid carers. All projects should consider the needs of people who receive care as well as unpaid carers, and ensure they are inclusive of the diverse needs of local populations.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence will be offering hands-on support to local authorities to develop local partnerships and deliver projects. The institute will also collect and share valuable learnings from projects across the country.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Care England says: “We hope this injection of funding will help provide some much-needed stability to the sector, and encourage systematic innovative thinking which will directly support the delivery of high-quality, person-centred care. It is now incumbent on the government to ensure the funds reach the frontline and do not get caught in the webs of bureaucracy.”
“Innovation plays a crucial role in the social care sector, better enabling us to weather the storm of an ageing population, workforce challenges and ongoing inflationary pressures. This fund, if utilised to the best of its ability, can help foster an environment of transformation, and ensure the care sector remains fit for the future.”
Local authorities in collaboration with partners in their integrated care system area are invited to submit their expression of interest to DHSC by 12 January 2024.