Wales legislates to improve information for carers

The Welsh government has introduced legislation to improve the lives of carers through improved information.

The proposed Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure would place duties on the NHS and local authorities in Wales to work together to provide information for carers and consult them on services that they or the people they care for receive.

Earlier proposals for the measure to address inappropriate burdens on young carers are not included.

The information provided to carers would cover financial benefits; employment provisions including flexible working; rights to a needs assessment, social care services available to them; care planning for the person cared for; medicines management; and safe handling and lifting.

The assembly government said existing legislation was insufficient to improve support for carers as it generally places duties on local authority social services and not on all local authority services.

However, implementation of the measure has a cost attached of £31,000 per authority in the first year; £59,000 per authority in the second and £110,000 per authority in the third.

The 2001 Census shows that Wales has a higher proportion of carers than any English region – 11.7% or 341,000 carers – and the highest proportion of people with limiting long-term illness at 23.3%.

At present, unpaid carers provide around 70% of care in the community, but an ageing population and a declining birth rate suggest that the pool of potential carers relative to the numbers needing care is likely to decrease over the medium term.

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