New JSNA: This is the test site for the new Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

Carers

Introduction

An adult carer can be defined as "an adult who provides or intends to provide care for another adult" ("adult needing care") (The Care Act 2014). The term refers to people providing unpaid or informal care as distinct from 'care workers'. Not all carers are adults, however, and 'young carers' face a range of risks to their wellbeing on account of providing care. The Carers Trust defines a carer as, "anyone" who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support". Caring can take many forms ranging from practical help with shopping or personal care to providing emotional help and keeping an eye on someone.

In the 2011 census, 6.5 million people identified themselves as carers in the UK, an 11% rise in numbers since the census in 2001. While the majority of unpaid carers are adults, in 2011 there were over 177, 000 young carers (children under the age of 18 years) providing regular and ongoing care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.

Caring can affect anyone and it is estimated that 3 in 5 people will be carers at some point in their lives (Carers UK). As life expectancy increases and more people are surviving and therefore living with chronic health conditions, it is to be expected that even more of the population will take on a caring role. By 2037, it is predicted that there will be 9 million carers in the UK (Carers UK, 2015). Although the level of caring can vary, more and more carers are providing high levels of care demonstrated by a 25% increase in the number of carers providing more than 50 hours of care a week between 2001 and 2011 (Office for National Statistics, 2011).

Although rewarding, caring can also have a detrimental effect on a carer's health and wellbeing; Responding to the State of Caring Survey (2015), 82% of carers reported caring to have a negative impact on their health. Carers tend to neglect their own health, putting the needs of the person they care for first, often missing routine health check appointments or vaccinations. Caring can particularly impact on mental health as carers report feeling stressed, anxious and suffering from depression. Carers may also experience social isolation and loneliness as their caring role impacts on their ability to maintain social relationships both through lack of free time but also from limited finances. The financial impact of caring can also be substantial with 45% of carers stating that financial worries are affecting their health. Caring can impact on a carer's ability to work, with 51% of responding carers having given up work to care and a further 21% reducing their hours (State of Caring 2015); this reduction in income in conjunction with rising costs of caring means that carers are often struggling with financial hardship.

Similarly to adults, young carers are more likely to describe their health as "not good" when compared to young people not providing care; this was particularly likely for young carers providing more than 50 hours a week who were 5 times likely to have "not good" health compared to those not providing care (Office for National Statistics).

Providing a caring role can impact on a young carer's emotional development and their ability to build relationships with others, with young carers being at a higher risk of experiencing depression and self-harm. Young carers may come to light through issues at school such as poor attendance, lateness and bullying. However, these, along with anxiety, fatigue and limited access to extracurricular activities can all manifest themselves in lower educational attainment. The Family Action Report in 2012, "Be Bothered! Making education count for young carers" highlighted gaps in awareness and recognition of the extra needs of young carers at school with only 44% of responding teachers stating their school did an adequate or good job supporting young carers. In addition, 49% of young carers stated that their school work had been affected by being a young carer.

In view of the contribution that carers and young carers make to wider society, the impact of caring on a carer's health and wellbeing, and the new rights which carers now have since the introduction of the Care Act (2014) and the Children and Families Act (2014), it is important to understand fully the make-up of our local carer population. The objectives of this Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) are therefore as follows:

•To highlight the demography of carers in Reading

•To understand how local provision of services aligns with current national

Strategies and local need

•To identify improvements to be made in order to improve the health and wellbeing of carers in Reading.

What do we know?

12,315 Reading residents identified themselves as a carer in the 2011 Census, which was 7.9% of the local authority's resident population. This is an increase on the 2001 census figures of 7.7% and shows that unpaid care has increased at a faster pace than population growth in Reading over the last decade. This reflects the national picture. Most commentators regard the census statistics as being a reliable indicator of the prevalence of caring amongst adults given that the questions posed do not rely on a person providing care identifying with the term 'carer' and the fact that a census return must be completed by one adult from every household.

The actual number of young carers is, however, likely to be higher than indicated by Census results, as shown by a BBC survey in 2010 finding 1 in 12 secondary school pupils across the UK had "moderate or high levels of care responsibilities". Young carers do not have direct access to Census returns as some adult carers may have, and young carers may be reluctant to identify themselves to services due to concerns about being taken into care or bullying. Most young carers are aged between 10 and 17 years of age (Office for National Statistics, 2011) with most providing between 1-19 hours of care a week. In 2011, 8.8% of young carers were providing high levels of care at 50 or more hours a week.

According to an NHS Information Centre survey, nearly half of carers (40%) care for their parents or parents-in-law, with over a quarter (26%) caring for their spouse or partner. People providing care for disabled children under 18 account for 8% of carers and 5% of carers are looking after adult children. A further 4% care for their grandparents and 7% care for another relative. Whilst the majority care for relatives, one in ten carers (9%) cares for a friend or neighbour.

Figures collated nationally indicate that the most common need which leads to someone providing unpaid care is physical disability at 58%, followed by sensory impairment and mental health problems at 20% and 13% respectively, with a further 10% providing care for someone with dementia (Carers UK, 2015). This breakdown is broadly consistent with local analysis based on a quite small sample of carers, i.e. 341 carers in who received a service in 2014/15. The majority of those (64.5%) were providing support for someone with a physical disability, 18% were supporting someone with a sensory/visual/memory impairment/learning disability and a further 14.1% were supporting someone with a mental health problem (figure 15). Applying this breakdown to Census estimates of the Reading carer population (12,315 in 2011) gives an estimated local carer population as shown in table 1 below:

Table1: Estimated breakdown of Reading carer population by primary need of cared for (based on 2011 census data)

Supporting someone with a physical disability

64.5% of 12,315

7,943

Supporting someone with a Sensory/Visual/Memory impairment/Learning Disability

18% of 12,315

2,217

Supporting someone with a Mental Health problem

14.1% of 12,315

1,736

Supporting someone with Other Needs

3.4% of 12,315

419

Source: Census 2011 and LA adult social care statutory returns

Facts, Figures, Trends

In 2011, most unpaid carers in Reading were providing 1-19 hours of care a week (66%) - figure 1). However, 2,599 carers were providing a high level of care at 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week. This is 21% of all carers in Reading and is an increase on 2001's figure of 18.1%. 56.5% of unpaid carers in Reading were female in 2011. This percentage increases to 61.3% for unpaid carers who provided 50 or more hours of care per week.

image1

In 2011, the proportion of unpaid carers in Reading varied by age group of the carer (Figures 2 & 3). The lowest numbers of unpaid carers were within the 0-15 years' group. Numbers of carers increased steadily with the age of the carer with the peak age for caring being 50-64 years. At this age, 18.1% of the population in Reading provides unpaid care; this is in line with the age distribution of carers nationally.

In 2011, there were 1,157 young and young adult carers in Reading (aged 0-24 years). Within the working age population (aged 16-64 years); there were 9,700 unpaid carers in Reading in 2011. This population of carers may require additional support to enable them achieve their potential at either school or in work. 13% of the population in Reading aged over 65 was providing unpaid care (figure 3). As the prevalence of health problems and disability is higher among this age group, providing a caring role may have an additional detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of this group of individuals.

Figure 2: Number of unpaid carers in Reading by age group (2011)

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Figure 3: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by age group (2011)

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

The amount of care provided by people from different ethnic groups does vary in Reading. Figure 4 provides this information at a broad ethnic group level and shows that 8.5% of people from a white ethnic group provide unpaid care compared to 4.8% from mixed or multiple ethnic groups. Within each ethnic group, most carers were providing between 1-19 hours of care per week.

Figure 4: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by ethnicity (2011)

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

9.2% of people from a Bangladeshi ethnic group provide unpaid care, which is the largest proportion in Reading for any single ethnic group.

The percentage of the population who are carers also varies between wards in Reading, from 4.4% in Abbey to 12.4% in Mapledurham. Figure 5 shows a map of Reading and highlights where the percentage of residents providing unpaid care is greater. The highest proportions of carers were living in Tilehurst, Southcote, Mapledurham and Peppard wards. Each of these wards have an older age profile in the population with peak numbers in the over 40-45 age group. In addition, these wards have higher than the Reading average of numbers of people with limiting long term illnesses which would correspond to the numbers of carers.

Figure 6 shows the percentage of Reading residents in each ward who described themselves as having a long term condition. In comparing Figures 5 and 6, it can be seen that two wards (Whitley and Norcot) have higher than average numbers of people with long term illness, but lower than average numbers of carers. This may indicate a level of hidden carers in those areas who have not yet recognised themselves as carers.

Figure 5: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by ward (2011)

Figure 5
Figure 5

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Figure 6: percentage of Reading residents in each ward who described themselves as having a long term condition

image6

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Young Carers in Reading

In 2011, there were 291 unpaid carers in Reading aged 0 to15 and a further 866 aged 16 to 24. This equates to 1.0% and 3.8% of the population respectively. 57.6% of young carers in Reading were female, which is comparable with the overall figure of 56.5% for all carer age groups. The amount of care provided by Reading's young carers is highlighted in Figure 7.

In 2011, 30 young carers aged 15 or under provided 50 hours or more of care a week. 107 carers aged 16 to 24 also provided this level of care. In both age groups, there were a higher number of carers providing 50 or more hours a week, compared to those providing 20-49 hours a week. The 2011 census provides ward-level data for the number of young carers in Reading. These range from 1.4% of the under 25 population in Thames ward to 2.7% in Church ward. The difference between wards is highlighted in Figure 8. The distribution of young carers across Reading is different from the distribution of adult carers, which may reflect the different age profiles of each ward. Mental health conditions are the most common conditions cared for with 33.4% of identified young carers in Reading providing care for someone with a mental health problem (Figure 9).

Figure 7: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by age group (2011)

image7

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011)

Figure 8: Percentage of Reading residents aged under- 25 who provided unpaid care by ward (2011)

Figure 8
Figure 8

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011), reproduced from OS data by permission of Ordinance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office

Figure 9: Conditions which young carers known to the Young Carers Project in Reading are providing unpaid care for

Figure 9
Figure 9

Source: Young Carers Project Reading

Health of Carers in Reading

Figure 10: People's self-reported statement about their level of health in Reading (2011)

image9

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011)

Unpaid carers in Reading are more likely to suffer from poorer health with only 75.1% describing their health as "good or very good", compared to 86.5% of people who do not provide unpaid care (Figure 10). The likelihood of reporting poorer health rose with the number of hours of care provided as carers providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week were three times as likely to describe their health as "bad or very bad" compared to people who did not provide unpaid care.

This finding was consistent across each age group (Figure 11). The health gap was largest for those aged 0-24 years where young carers were over five times as likely to describe their health as "bad'' or ''very bad" compared to people who do not provide care. The smallest difference in poor health was for those aged 65+ years, likely due to a higher prevalence of health problems in this population as a whole.

Figure 11: Percentage of people who stated that they had bad or very bad health in Reading (2011)

image10

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011)

The National GP Patient Survey asks people to state whether they look after or provide help and support to family or friends. In the 2014 Survey, 15.3% of those patients registered to Reading GPs who responded to the survey stated that they looked after or provided this type of support. While this is an increase on the census figures of 7.9% of the population providing unpaid care, it is of note that the response rate to the GP survey was only 33% and it is possible that carers would be more likely to complete the survey than people who do not provide care.

The NHS Health Check Programme aims to prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as diabetes and kidney disease. People aged 40 to 74, who have no pre-existing condition, are invited to a health check every 5 years to have their circulatory and vascular health assessed. Individuals then receive advice and support to maintain or improve their health, such as making lifestyle changes or being referred on for further tests. GPs in Reading provided an NHS Health Check to 39 identified carers in 2014/15.Whilst this is significantly lower than the numbers of carers in this age group, this health check data is likely to be an under-estimate due to data capture issues. Nevertheless, it highlights an area where accurate up to date information is difficult to obtain for the Reading population.

Figure 12: Economic status of people aged 16 and over in Reading 2011

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2015)

Figure 13: Employment status of people aged 16 and over who are economically active in Reading (2011)

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2015)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a non-contributory benefit for people who look after a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week, who are not gainfully employed, and who are aged 16 or over and not in full-time education. In August 2014, 1,330 people in Reading received a Carer's Allowance. 79% of the recipients were female and 44% were aged between 35 and 49 (Figure 14). The total number of people receiving Carer's Allowance in Reading has steadily increased over the last 11 years from 580 in August 2003 (Figure 15).

Figure 14: Number of Carer's Allowance recipients in Reading by age group

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2015)

Figure 15: Total number of Carer's Allowance recipients in Reading (Aug 2014)

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Source: Office for National Statistics (2015)

Social Care and Support

In 2014/15, 1166 carers were assessed or reviewed by Reading's Adult Social Care Service; this is equivalent to 93.9 per 10,000 people in the 18+ population (113.3 per 10,000 people in the South East Region) which is 30.3% higher compared to last year (2013/14 - 895 carers assessed or reviewed which was equivalent to 72.1 per 10,000 people in Reading for the 18+ population and 76.5 per 10,000 people in the South East Region).

Of the 1166 carers; 341were provided with direct carer support via a Full or Part Direct Payment (ASCOF measure 1C) from the Carers' Breaks and Opportunities Fund. This discretionary service has been replaced by the right to a Personal Budget since April 2015 for all carers who meet national eligibility criteria.

A further 458 were given Information, Advice and Other Universal Services / Signposting with the remaining 367 carers receiving no Direct carer support at all (2013/14 - 508 carers received services including respite for the carer and / or other types of carer service with a further 388 receiving Info and Advice only).

Of those 1166 carers; 510 also received indirect help via respite or other forms of Carer Support delivered to the cared for person (Local Account 2014/15).

Assessments identified the method and type of carer support provided during the year, the age of the carer and the primary support need of the person they care for (Figure 16). Most carers assessments were completed for carers in the 18-64 age categories (63.9%), and most adult carers receiving an assessment in the year were supporting people with a physical support need (64.5%). Carer assessments carried out jointly with a needs assessment/review of the person being supported accounted for a higher proportion of the total (56%) compared to those provided with a separate carer's assessment.

Young carers, i.e. carers aged under -18, did not receive a formal carer's assessment prior to the introduction of this as an entitlement in April 2015. However, a total of 562 young carers (185 aged 3-11, 270 aged 12-16; 107 aged 17-19) are known to the local authority to date.

All carers known to the local authority; whether or not given a formal carer's assessment were offered information, advice and signposting to local services.

Figure 16: Direct Carer Support only (not including Info and Advice, Universal Services or Support provided to the cared for person) provided during the year by Carer Age, Primary Support Need and type of Support provided Period: 01/04/14-31/03/15 (all tables)

 

Support Provided to Carers




by Age Band of Carer
 

Support Provided

  

Support Direct to Carer

  

Age Group (of Carer)

Direct Payment

Only

Part Direct

Payment

CASSR Managed Personal Budget

CASSR Commissioned Support Only

Total

%

Carer aged under 18

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

Carer aged 18 to 64

187

31

0

0

218

63.9%

Carer aged 65 to 84

79

34

0

0

113

33.1%

Carer aged 85 and over

7

3

0

0

10

2.9%

Total Carers receiving Direct Support services

341

THIS TABLE CONTAINS DATA USED FOR THE ADULT SOCIAL CARE OUTCOMES FRAMEWORK (ASCOF) MEASURE 1C

  

Support Provided to Carers


by Primary Support Reason (of client)

 

Support Provided

 
 

Support Direct to Carer

  

Primary Support Reason



(of Cared for Person: most recent) - all ages


 

Direct Payment Only

Part Direct Payment

CASSR Managed Personal Budget

CASSR Commissioned Support Only

Total

%

Physical Support: Access and Mobility Only

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

Physical Support: Personal Care Support

182

38

0

0

220

64.5%

Sensory Support: Support for Visual Impairment

6

1

0

0

7

2.1%

Sensory Support: Support for Hearing Impairment

1

0

0

0

1

0.3%

Sensory Support: Support for Dual Impairment

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

Support with Memory and Cognition

17

14

0

0

31

9.1%

Learning Disability Support

13

9

0

0

22

6.5%

Mental Health Support

43

5

0

0

48

14.1%

Social Support: Substance Misuse Support

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

Social Support: Asylum Seeker Support

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

Social Support: Support for Social Isolation / Other

0

0

0

0

0

0.0%

No PSR - Cared for Person not recorded or details not current

11

1

0

0

12

3.5%

Total Cared for by those carers receiving a Direct Support service

341

     

Support Provided to Carers by Method of Assessment or Review

Support Provided

  
 

Support Direct to Carer

  

Method of Assessment or Review

Direct Payment Only

Part Direct Payment

CASSR Managed

Personal Budget

CASSR Commissioned Support Only

Total

%

Jointly with the Cared for Person

136

55

0

0

191

56.0%

Separately from the Cared for Person

137

13

0

0

150

44.0%

Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre: National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service (2015)

Councils with Adult Social Services responsibilities are required to run a national Carers Survey every two years. This survey, which started in 2012/13, has been developed to learn more about whether services received by carers are helping them in their caring role and their life outside of caring. The results of the survey feed into the monitoring of the National Carers Strategy and are also used to populate several measures in the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework.

The latest available results for the national Carers Survey are from 2014/15.

The Survey asks carers to score their quality of life in a number of different areas, such as how they spend their time, their safety, social participation, personal care, encouragement and support. These scores are then combined to create an overall quality of life score for each carer. In Reading, the average score for carer related quality of life index for 2014/15 was 7.9 out of a maximum score of 12. This is significantly lower than the previous year's score of 8.5 but similar to the England's average (Figure 17).

Figure 17: Carer reported quality of life in 2014/15 (Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measure 1D)

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Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015)

Quality of life scores differed slightly between different genders and age groups, but these were not significant (Figure 18). In 2014/15, 75% of carers expressed some kind of satisfaction with support received (Figure 19). Of those; 42% were 'Extremely' or 'Very' satisfied, with Females and those aged 18-64 in Reading being more satisfied as compared to in England. Males and those aged 65 and over were comparatively less satisfied than those groups in England (Figure 20).

Figure 18: Carer reported quality of life in 2014/15 by Gender and Age in Reading and England (Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measure 1D)

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Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015)

Figure 19: Reading Carers' satisfaction with support or services they had received from Social Services in the last 12 months in 2014/15.

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Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015)

Figure 20: Percentage of Carer Survey respondents who were extremely or very satisfied with the support or services they had received from Social Services in the last 12 months in 2014/15 (Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework measure 3B)

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Source: Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015)

Current Activities and services

From April 2016, the 'Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub' will provide carers with a targeted information and advice service, as well as services which support carers to manage caring and to enjoy a life outside caring. These services have been jointly commissioned by Reading Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and the local NHS and are available to all adult carers who are Reading residents or caring for a Reading resident.

Adult carers in Reading can also access support to take a break through alternative or respite care provided at home or in community settings by Reading Crossroads. Young carers are able to take a break by attending the Council's young carers clubs. These clubs give young people time away from caring as well as the opportunity to connect with other young carers and support services to help them manage the issues which young caring raises.

In addition, carers in Reading can also access support through a number of community services which focus on specific care needs or particular long term health conditions, and take a 'whole family' approach. These include: Age UK, the Alzheimer's society, Mencap, the MS Society, the Parkinson's Society, the Stroke Association and the Younger People With Dementia Charity. Support can include advice, training, peer support and opportunities to take part in leisure activities and volunteering.

Reading Borough Council provides Carers Assessments in line with the Care Act and the Children and Families Act. Carers are also encouraged to be part of any Needs Assessment for the person they support. This gives carers the opportunity to talk about their needs as a carer and what would help them with their caring responsibilities; there is no charge for an assessment. The sorts of help that carers may receive following an assessment include:

  • Practical support to help look after the person they care for
  • Replacement (respite) care, breaks and Direct Payments to help relieve the stress of caring
  • Adaptations, alarms and equipment
  • Advice and support on managing stress and looking after your health
  • Emergency back-up planning.

A Young Carers project screening tool has been developed which allows for assessment of the young carer in line with the Children and Families Act 2014 and takes a whole family approach to the needs of the young carer.

Within the school nursing team in Reading, a School Nurse Champion for Young Carers has been identified and attended training as provided by the Carers Trust. The champion is working closely with schools and the young carer's service in order to raise the profile of young carers and disseminating information and training about young carers to the rest of the school nursing team.

National Strategies

Carers are a government priority with the publication of, "Recognised, valued and supported: next step for the Carers strategy" by the coalition government in 2010, subsequently updated as the Carers Strategy: Second Action Plan 2014-2016.  This describes four priority areas for government:

  1. Identification and recognition of carers: helping carers to identify themselves, recognising and valuing their contribution.
  2. Realising and releasing potential: providing support for carers and young carers to achieve at school and in work. This includes the promotion of health and wellbeing of unpaid carers by employers as part of the Public Health responsibility deal
  3. A life alongside caring: providing support to enable carers and young carers to have a family and community life. This will be through the provision of information, specific support services highlighted as needed through a Carers Assessment and financial support to enable carers to have breaks.
  4. Supporting Carers to stay healthy: moving the focus towards early intervention and provision of services, rather than waiting for a crisis to develop. Helping carers to be attentive to their own health including their mental health

The Department of Health's mandate to NHS England requires that the NHS "becomes dramatically better at involving patients and their carers, and empowering them to manage and make decisions about their own care and treatment". In view of this, in 2014, NHS England set out their Commitment to Carers recognising the value of carers to the NHS as well as to the people they care for. This describes a number of priorities, including raising the profile of carers, education and training, primary care, commissioning support, partnership links and NHS England as an employer. In addition, the NHS Outcomes Framework (2014/15) includes an indicator to measure the health related quality of life for carers.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has developed an extensive set of resources to assist GPs in the identification and support of carers within their practices, including an interactive guide on Commissioning for Carers. In addition, the Caring for Carers Hub is a web based tool, partly funded by the Department of Health and intended to provide information about supporting carers health and wellbeing, along with local information about services, support groups and resources to enable primary care staff to fully support their local carers. 

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Association of Directors of Children's Services have worked together with The Children's Society to develop a model local Memorandum of Understanding in order to promote working together between Adult's and Children's social services and so provide an enhanced service for young carers and their families as a whole. This provides a resource that can be adapted for use in local areas.

The Young Carers Pathway was launched in 2014 as a model approach for school nursing, education, local authorities and young carers' service to work together. The pathway aims to provide a visible, accessible and confidential service for young carers, promoting partnership working and thereby promoting positive physical and emotional wellbeing for young carers. As school nursing teams are in a unique position to be able to offer support to young carers, the Department of health has been training School Nurse Champions for Young Carers. 

The Carers Trust and The Children's Society Young Carers in Focus partners have jointly developed the Young Carers in Schools initiative across England, aiming to equip schools to support young carers and then awarding good practice. The step by step guide helps schools to identify and support young carers and the expert regional networks.

Carers Week is a national campaign which happens in June every year to raise the awareness of caring and the challenges faced by carers on a daily basis. In 2015, Carers Week focused on building Carer Friendly Communities and a number of organisations came together to organise activities and events across the UK, including Carers UK and the Carers Trust among others. It provides an opportunity for all partners involved in supporting carers to identify new carers through raising awareness and also to signpost carers to services that are available for support. Similarly, Carers Rights Day in November is a more focused annual event with the same aims.

What is this telling us?

Caring impacts on the health and wellbeing of the carer and this is also demonstrated for carers in Reading, with carers being more likely to report poor health and less likely to report good health compared to those who do not provide unpaid care. Just over half of carers in Reading have as much social contact as they would like, which is higher than the national average but shows there are still many carers who would like a higher level of social contact.

Carers in Reading are more likely to be included in discussions about the person they care for, than carers nationally. However, they find it less easy than carers nationally to find information about services. This is according to a survey of a proportion of the local carer population.

The majority of carers in Reading are of working age and therefore may require support both to stay in work if desired and to achieve their full potential. In addition, financial support may also be required in order to manage their caring responsibilities alongside working.

The young and young adult carers are distributed differently across Reading than older carers; this may have consequences for service provision. While most young carers are providing between 1-19 hours of unpaid care a week, over 10% are providing a high level of care (50+ hours a week).

Young carers in Reading show a marked increase in poor health when compared to young people who are not providing unpaid care.

What are the unmet needs / service gaps?

There are a number of national schemes and priorities now in place; however, these are yet to fully translate to the local population of Reading. There are still large numbers of hidden carers in Reading - some who may have not yet self-identified and a further proportion not known to local services. It is not yet clear how many GP practices operate a carer's register in Reading; this may give a clearer picture of the local carer population and present opportunities for effective commissioning of carers-specific services.

Young carers are already isolated mainly because they do not wish to discuss their situation or do not know where to turn for support. The number of young carers known to the local authority is much lower than the estimated number of young carers in Reading, but other agencies, e.g. schools, may be better placed to identify and support young carers.

What are the key inequalities?

In Reading, the highest proportion of unpaid carers are within the 50-64 age group with women being more likely to provide higher levels (50+ hours a week) of unpaid care compared to men.

The numbers of carers varies by ethnic group with the highest proportion (9.2%) amongst the Reading Bangladeshi population and lowest proportion (4.8%) in the mixed/multiple ethnic group.

Unpaid carers are less likely to have good health and more likely to have poor health when compared to people who do not provide unpaid care. The health gap is particularly marked for those individuals providing more than 50 hours of unpaid care a week.

Compared to people who do not provide unpaid care, carers are less likely to be economically active and more likely to be in part time work.

This section links to the following sections in the JSNA:

Mental health

General Wellbeing

Acknowledgements

The compilation of the Carers JSNA has been guided by the Reading Borough Council Carers Needs Assessment.

References:

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