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Commissioning for Carers: Principles and resources to support effective commissioning for adult and young carers

The five and a half million unpaid carers in England make a critical and underappreciated contribution not only to loved ones, neighbours and friends, but to the very sustainability of the NHS. To make this contribution, carers often make great sacrifices to support the people they look after. The NHS Five Year Forward View commits the NHS to find new ways to support carers, to build on the new rights created by the Care Act and to help the most vulnerable carers – the approximately 225,000 young carers and the 110,000 carers who are themselves aged over 85.

Whilst commissioners and practitioners cannot solve all of the challenges faced by carers, much more could be done to support them and help ensure that they receive the recognition and support that they need and deserve from the NHS.

The Commissioning for Carers: Principles and resources to support effective commissioning for adult and young carers (referred throughout the document as Commissioning for Carers Principles), is a practical tool and part of a suite of products that will help commissioners to deliver what carers say is important to them in ways that have been shown to work effectively and efficiently in practice. The Principles are based on the latest research, case-studies and best-practice and are the vital and common ingredients to deliver better outcomes for carers, patients, commissioners, practitioners and local communities. They are:

1. Think Carer, Think Family; Make Every Contact Count
2. Support what works for carers, share and learn from others
3. Right care, right time, right place for carers
4. Measure what matters to carers
5. Support for carers depends on partnership working
6. Leadership for carers at all levels
7. Train staff to identify and support carers
8. Prioritise carers health and wellbeing
9. Invest in carers to sustain and save
10. Support carers to access local resources

The Commissioning for Carers Principles form part of NHS England’s Commitments to Carers, published on 7 May 2014, and the RCGP Supporting Carers in General Practice Programme, to help in identifying, supporting and recognising the vital roles that carers play to support them to provide better care and to stay well themselves. This report noted that the improving support for carers was a journey and the Commitments represented a first step in this journey. This work provides a further step forward in support for carers by synthesizing research, case-studies and best-practice from evidence summits into the ten principles. NHS England remains committed to and will continue to work with the support of partners including NHS Improving Quality, the Royal College of General Practitioners and supported by Carers UK, Carers Trust, Children’s Society, Commissioners, Standing Commission on Carers, Providers and Practitioners.