Carers under strain

Pressures on the National Health Service to reduce waiting lists
are putting additional burdens on carers, according to new research
by the Carers National Association.

The survey findings, published this week to coincide with the
start of National Carers Week, show that more than a third of
carers were not consulted prior to the person they cared for being
discharged from hospital.

Only one in five of the 2,000 carers surveyed received a copy of
the discharge plan, and nearly half said their comments and
concerns were not taken into account.

Carers from ethnic minorities were even less likely to be
consulted, have their concerns taken on board or be included in the
planning process than their white counterparts, findings show. The
lack of co-ordination between health and social care staff was
highlighted as a major area of concern, with carers calling for the
different professions to work more closely together both before and
after a patient is discharged.

Many carers said they were left to cope with unacceptable
situations and 43 per cent said they were not given sufficient
help. Almost half of respondents felt the person they cared for had
been sent home too early.

Only half of the carers were told about the sorts of care that
would be needed after leaving hospital and a massive 71 per cent
said they were not told about alternatives to caring for the person
at home, such as residential care or sheltered housing.

Half of the carers had not received an assessment of their needs
despite being entitled to one – a figure which grew to 60 per cent
of carers providing between 51 and 100 hours of care a week.

CNA chief executive Diana Whitworth said the findings presented
a “serious challenge” to the new government and added to a growing
body of evidence which suggests that carers are having to “pick up
the pieces as hospital discharge policies fail”.

“The offensive concept of bed-blocking and the drive to cut
waiting lists are clearly a factor,” Whitworth said. “We need a
more enlightened approach which places the needs of patients and
carers at its heart.”

You can take him home now from 020 7490 8818.

Carers charity Crossroads celebrated the start of National
Carers Week with the launch of a new fund for grants of up to
£5,000 for projects offering breaks for young carers.

The Young Carers Fund will support projects that promote
“educational, relaxing and most of all fun” breaks for the
estimated 51,000 young carers in the UK who are under the age of

Grants will be made for either one-off projects or to help get
new long-term projects off the ground.

Contact 020 7380 1133 or

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