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6. Carers

The Care Act 2014 has given the greatest ever recognition of adult carers, and the Children and Families Act 2014 ensures a more consistent approach to the support for parent carers.  The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 set out what a local authority must determine through a young carer’s needs assessment.  The local authority must consider the impact of the needs of the young carer’s family on the wellbeing of the young carer and any child in that family, and in particular, on their education and personal and emotional development.

The 2011 Census identified 27,639 carers in South Gloucestershire. As 65% of carers do not identify themselves as such in their first year of caring, and many never do, this number is likely to be a huge underestimate. Over 20% of carers provide unpaid care for 50 hours or more, per week. Over 4,000 carers have joined the voluntary carers register, Connecting Carers, which represents about 14% of the carers who have self-identified through the census. South Gloucestershire has a higher proportion of carers aged 50 and over than the national average. Age UK has also raised serious concerns the significant increase in the number of carers aged 80 and over who are caring for a partner.

Over 800 black and minority ethnic residents identified themselves as carers in the 2011 census, with the largest number of carers coming from the Asian or Asian British community.

By 2045, the number of carers in South Gloucestershire is predicted to rise by 60% to approximately 43,000 carers.

We have a three year service level agreement (2015 – 2018) in place with a range of organisations and providers to support carers to continue in their caring role. This includes provision for young carers, and a growing range of carers groups offering peer support.

We are currently working with partners to refresh the Joint Carers Strategy, and this will be available for consultation in the Spring 2016. Much progress has been made with the 2011 – 2014 strategy, with significant steps forward in the identification of carers, through the use of Connecting Carers, and the development of a process to assess and meet carers’ needs, through Getting Help and Connected.  Carers worked with us and partners to co-produce these processes, and continue to be involved in developments through the Carers Advisory Partnership.

The key risks for people who are caring are:

  • Risks to their employment as they juggle work with care – over three million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether.
  • Risks to educational attainment, life chances and opportunities for young carers
  • Negative and enduring impacts on the physical health, mental health, education and employment opportunities of young carers. Carers aged 18 – 25 often experience different barriers and difficulties to older carers
  • Financial risks – taking on a caring role can mean people face a steep drop in income if they have to leave work or reduce their hours to care, sometimes a double loss of salary if they are caring for a partner who also has to give up work as a result of their illness or disability.
  • Risks to health and wellbeing – 82% of carers report that caring has had a negative impact on their health, 2% more than in 2014. By putting the person they care for first, carers can put their own needs last, struggling to find time to exercise, eat healthy meals, see friends and family or see their GP.  Carers’ mental wellbeing is at risk, with carers vulnerable to stress, loneliness and isolation.

We have a three year service level agreement (2015-2018) in place with a range of organisations and providers to support carers to continue in their caring role.  This includes provision for young carers and a growing range of carers groups offering peer support.

We are currently working with partners to refresh the Joint Carers Strategy and this will be available for consultation in the Spring 2016.  Much progress has been made with the 2011-2014 strategy, with significant steps forward in the identification of carers, through the use of Connecting Carers and the development of a process to assess and meet carers’ needs, through Getting Help and Connected.  Carers worked with us and partners to co-produce these processes and continue to be involved in developments through the Carers Advisory Partnership.