Luen Thompson

21st March:  New blog post from Luen Thompson at Carers Trust:

The Proof of the Pudding. . .

So it’s official, not only do carers understand the real value of a break, but now it can be demonstrated to those who hold the purse strings too. At last it is possible to demonstrate the full value of providing breaks to the UK’s 7m unpaid carers.

We at Carers Trust, the UK’s largest carers charity have been working with our Network Partners and nef consulting to develop a social return on investment tool which evidences the true value of providing an unpaid carer with a break from their caring responsibility.

We all know that carers are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and that without regular breaks, the impact on a carers life can be massive. For example carers like Jackie who cares for someone with dementia have higher levels of stress, are more likely to experience depression and poor physical health and face particular difficulties in accessing practical and emotional support. Carers are more likely to end up requiring care and support themselves, and this can impact negatively on the person they are caring for and result in two people requiring additional and higher level services. Through our network of partners, Carers Trust supports around half a million carers a year, irrespective of the needs of the person they care for. We are there for carers.

But we currently face a vicious circle, especially during the winter months and the associated increase in A&E admissions, where understandably, limited resources are increasingly being focussed on those with the very highest level of need. However, this only worsens the crisis as many carers are left without support, trying to cope alone, often ending up in expensive hospital or crisis care which our current systems struggle to cope with. Families are also paying the price as 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up employment to care for relatives and are themselves pushed to breaking point and poverty.

Using our new tool we have been able to evidence that for every £1 spent on providing carers with breaks in Greater Manchester £4.56 is returned in real value to the organisation commissioning and funding the service and for every £1 spent, £3.80 is created in social value. We can also now show not only satisfaction in our services, but the demonstrable difference we are making for the hundreds of carers we work with in this area. Having now received the Crossroads Care breaks service for 6 months Mrs Wilson said “Now that we get support from Crossroads, the break allows me time to myself and I no longer feel depressed.”

All the evidence suggests that supporting carers with breaks will not only help improve the health of carers and those they care for but will also help strengthen the family to help reduce admissions to hospitals, reduce residential care admissions, reduce the cost of high care packages in the community and reduce demands on GP practices.  If we fail to support unpaid carers and they too end up in ill health, then our local health and social care services may be faced with two patients where previously there was only one. Yet Crossroads Care and Carers Trust charities have seen huge funding reductions over the last two years as authorities shift their priorities away from carers. The new toolkit will help to prove the value of our services and ensure that meeting carers needs is prioritised as a valuable preventative service.

On reviewing the results Paul Parlby, CEO of Crossroads Care in Greater Manchester said “ It has become harder than ever to secure the funds we need to continue the vital services we provide in giving unpaid carers the breaks they so need and deserve. This tool will help us prove to commissioners and funders of services the real value of a break to a carer who so often put their own needs second to the person they care for. Unpaid carers are often invisible in our communities yet they are the backbone of our local health and social care systems which would surely collapse without their input”.

Luen Thompson

Director of Marketing and Communications Carers Trust.

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