GPs will get £6m worth of training over the next four years to help them identify carers earlier and tackle their health needs, the government has announced today.
The pledge comes alongside a refreshed government strategy for carers, which also promises an extension of the right to request flexible working to all members of the workforce, a move expected to benefit 75,000 carers.
Speaking at the Carers Summit in London today Paul Burstow, care services minister, will say: “Today’s strategy outlines a number of ways to ensure carers continue to feel valued and lead full and rewarding lives.
“We all have a role to play in this, whether we work for a GP practice which could provide more personalised care and support for carers or we are an employer that could offer a small change in working hours or provide flexible working arrangements,” he added.
The funds attached to supporting GPs will be in addition to the £400m for short breaks for carers from 2011-15, which the government announced in November. It is also on top of the £4.4m from the now defunct Caring with Confidence programme, which is being reinvested in projects to train carers in their role and improve frontline professionals’ awareness of the group.
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers welcomed the new funding for GPs.
“GPs play a vital role in helping to identify carers as virtually all of them will come into contact with them,” said the charity’s chief executive, Carole Cochrane. “Training is important, but the commitment must go beyond this to ensure a culture change, where carers are not only identified but also actively supported on an on-going basis by GPs.”
Most carers already have the right to request flexible working but some are excluded on the basis that they neither live with the person they care for nor are a near relative or partner. The details of the right to request flexible working will be subject to a consultation exercise early in the New Year.
Imelda Redmond, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “We welcome this refresh of the national carers strategy, which sets out an important framework for supporting carers through technology, health and social care services and in the workplace as they juggle work and care.”
Age UK also welcomed the strategy but stressed that the financial and emotional needs of “often isolated and overlooked” older carers had to be recognised.
“Older carers save the economy around £15 billion a year but in doing so often make great personal and financial sacrifices, with many suffering health problems exacerbated by the pressures of caring,” said charity director Michelle Mitchell. “Spending cuts and demographic change mean that fewer and fewer older people are qualifying for local authority support, resulting in more older people having to provide constant care for their loved ones.”
The strategy entitled, Recognised, valued and supported: Next steps for the carers strategy, also proposed to develop ways to use digital technologies to help support carers.
In the document the government also restated its commitment to introduce portable assessments for all client groups on the back of a Law Commission review of adult social care law, which is due to report next April.
Alongside the strategy the government also published a good practice guide to improving outcomes for carers under personalisation.
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