This is a response to the Carers Action Plan 2018-2020 published by The Department of Health in June 2018.
The Department of Health and Social Care have launched a cross-government action plan for carers which outlines plans to support carers in England, over the next 2 years. The Carers Action Plan 2018-2020 expands on the National Carers Strategy and sets out 64 actions across services and systems, employment and financial wellbeing, young carers, community and society and research. At tide we welcome this strategy, and especially the reference to carers of people living with dementia. The action plan links to Challenge Dementia 2020 and specifies the need for the NHS to disseminate best practice in identifying and supporting carers of people with dementia, to work in partnership across sectors and to champion stakeholder voice through the Citizens Engagement Panel.
Whilst we celebrate this step, we are acutely aware that caring for someone with dementia can, at times, be challenging, isolating and exhausting and research shows that carers of people living with dementia often face more stress than other carers. This situation is often aggravated by the need to navigate a maze like system of health and social care. There are around 670,000 carers of people living with dementia in the UK. They do a fantastic job, saving the state £11 billion a year, but many say that they do not have the services and support they need. Commissioners should recognise this and commission to meet the needs of carers of people living with dementia.
“More work needs to be done to understand what life looks like for all carers and design services to meet this reality. The recommendations outlined in the Carers Action Plan 2018-2020 are general and don’t allow for the fact that often carers from a BAME background only access support and services when already in a crisis point. We need to take time to listen to groups that are seldom heard and often overlooked if we want to commission services that are fully representative.”
Shahid Mohammed, who cared for his mother who was living with vascular dementia, also wishes to highlight how diverse carers of people living with dementia are and stress the need to commission fully representative services.
This action plan is a positive step forward but it is just a start. Much more needs to be done to fully recognise the value and contribution carers of people living with dementia make to society, and there is still work to do to furnish them with the support and services that they need.