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Care Act for carers: One year on

Lessons Learned, Next Steps

The Care Act has been widely welcomed. Implementation of the Act however, is far from complete. 69% of carers responding to our survey noticed no difference
since its introduction and many expressed frustration and anger at the lack of support they received in their caring role.

Our survey of carers found that too many carers were unaware of their rights. 65% of carers who responded to our survey had not received assessments under the new Care Act. Our survey made some carers aware of their rights for the first time.

The quality of Care Act Assessments is cause for concern. 34% of carers responding to our survey felt that their carers’ assessment was not helpful.

The Care Act and the accompanying statutory guidance make clear that carers’ eligibility for support is independent of the person they care for. We found evidence however, to suggest that practitioners are not always clear on this point. It appears that not all local authorities are complying with the letter of the law in the way they assess and respond to carers’ needs. We recommend further study in relation to this.

Many carers continue to find engagement with health services problematic for them and the person they care for, yet there are many opportunities for the NHS to support carers, particularly with identification. The new NHS England Carers Toolkit1 is welcome in this regard.

There was little evidence that the Act’s market-shaping duty has benefited carers and promoted innovation. Local authorities could do more to develop their offer to carers.

The Act introduced a transition planning duty for young carers and parent carers. Some local authorities have adopted a narrow interpretation of this duty, limiting it to those with care needs, to the exclusion of carers with support needs.

There is still good reason to be optimistic about the transformative potential of the Care Act. Implementation support is still required however, and further study and evaluation should be put in place.