This Friday 25th November sees the commemoration of Carers Rights Day 2016. As the caregiver of a 10 year old boy on the autism spectrum the day is of particular significance to my wife and I.
During 2016 Carers UK conducted a survey and found the 54% of respondents (ie caregivers) believe that their quality of life will get worse while just 6% thought it would improve. To read more about the State of Caring Survey please go here.
So I wondered why your view was. Please take this poll and share your thoughts and feeling in the comments section below!
An investigation by the Press Association news agency found that a third of hospital trusts in England have increased their car parking charges in the last year. The analysis combines figures obtained from NHS Trusts and data submitted to NHS Digital (formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre).
This investigation comes one year on from Carers UK’s analysis of data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre  which showed that the percentage of hospitals charging patients and visitors to park has doubled in a decade (15% in 2004-05 to 30% in 2014-15). Further analysis by the charity also revealed that of the NHS hospital Trusts in England that charge patients and visitors for parking, 63% had increased their charges since the previous year (2014).
Carers UK’s analysis underpinned the charity’s Park the Charges campaign, working with Julie Cooper MP to make hospital parking free for carers in England . The campaign led to the Department of Health updating its guidance on hospital parking charges to specifically include carers – for the very first time – as a group for which concessions, such as free or reduced charges or caps, should be available.
In response to the Press Association’s investigation, Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:
“This is a real issue for families of people who have long-term conditions or are severely disabled and need frequent or long hospital visits. Paying the costs of car parking just adds to the stresses of caring for a family member or close friend who is ill or disabled and can push families who need a lot of hospital visits into financial hardship. Some of the stories from families show just how stressful it is – families on low incomes are forced into debt by excessive car parking charges, whilst others worry about how they will pay when their relative is seriously-ill.
“In some rural areas, cars are essential to get people to hospital and for others, public transport is not an option because they are simply too ill or it is impractical. This issue needs to be urgently re-examined by NHS Trusts. It’s absolutely essential that hospital trusts look at ensuring carers, in particular, are exempt from paying charges. Ideally, we would like all car parking fees to be scrapped and follow Wales and Scotland where hospital car parking is free of charge.
“We’d advise all carers to get in touch with their NHS Trust, find out what the exemptions are, and, if they don’t have an exemption for carers, point them in the direction of the Department of Health guidance which has recently been updated to specifically include carers as a group that should be given discounts or exemptions.”
Due to a lack of appropriate support in the community, unpaid carers are reluctantly taking their loved ones to A&E, according to new research published today by Carers UK . The charity’s report comes as the NHS prepares for its annual challenge of increased A&E visits and hospital admissions during the winter months.
Carers identified serious difficulties accessing primary and community support services, with 1 in 5 saying they had no option but to take their loved one to A&E because it was impossible to see a district nurse or a GP out of hours, and 1 in 10 saying they didn’t know where else to go.
The report, Pressure points, found that the majority of carers who have taken their loved one to A&E in the past 12 months believe their admission could have been prevented with more (55%) or higher quality support (50%) for the person they care for, more local support for them as a carer (32%) or access to a district nurse (25%).
A reduction in the provision of local care and support services is contributing to a rise in A&E visits and hospital admissions, as families say they have nowhere else to turn. Indeed, there were over 500,000 more visits to A&E in the first quarter of 2016 than the same period last year .
This growing demand on the NHS is forcing many people to be discharged from hospital too early, often without the right support in place at home and without proper consultation with their family. Over half of carers (58%) said that the person they care for had been discharged from hospital too early; with 12% saying their loved one had to be readmitted at a result. Not only is this counterproductive for the health of the person being cared for but it also causes undue stress and anxiety for families and friends who are often unprepared to take on caring responsibilities or coordinate aftercare themselves.
A lack of community health and care support is not only resulting in more people being admitted – or readmitted – to hospital, but it is also leading to many people having to stay in hospital for longer than necessary as they wait for an appropriate care package to be put in place to enable them to go home. What’s more, the cost to the NHS of delays in discharging older patients alone is £820 million a year ; with the number of delayed discharges, and therefore costs, continuing to rise .
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
“The majority of care provided in England is not by doctors, nurses or care workers, but by family and friends. These carers have told us that they aren’t able access the support they need, when they need it, from community health and care services, so they are reluctantly having to turn to A&E.
“What’s more, a lack of consultation, support and information at the point their loved one is discharged from hospital means that many families are taking on a caring role in a crisis and feel unprepared. This isn’t sustainable and is leading to many people being readmitted to hospital shortly after they’ve been discharged, piling more pressure on an already stretched NHS.
“With more and more families picking up caring responsibilities and older people with care needs being encouraged to stay at home for longer, a step-change is urgently needed to boost investment in community services and involve carers in decisions about the support they, and their loved ones, need to manage at home.”
Carers UK is calling for:
A Carer Friendly NHS programme, introducing a new duty on the NHS to identify carers and promote their health and wellbeing, as well as policies which ensure carers are involved in decision making around hospital admissions and discharges, and the adoption of a Carer Passport scheme
Increased funding for social care, with the Government putting in place a sustainable funding settlement for social care and ring fencing funding for carer breaks
Greater access to social careand health care in the community, including looking to new technologies to facilitate virtual health consultations and access to electronic patient records
Greater support from primary care services to better help carers look after their own health, including annual health checks for carers and free flu jabs
Carers UK recognises that deciding to care or continue caring for someone who is coming out of hospital can be very difficult. The charity has published a fact sheet which outlines carers’ rights during the hospital discharge process, the steps that should be followed before the person is discharged from hospital and advice on what to do if things go wrong. The fact sheet, Coming out of hospital, is available at: www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/practical-support/coming-out-of-hospital
 Pressure points: carers and the NHS (2016) Carers UK
 A&E Attendances & Emergency Admission Statistics, NHS and independent sector organisations in England (July 2016) NHS England
Total A&E Attendances
 Discharging older patients from hospital (2016) National Audit Office
 Monthly A&E Report (June 2016) NHS England: In June 2016, there were a total of 171,300 delayed days, of which 115,400 were in acute care – an increase of 31,800 from June 2015.
For practical advice and information about caring, contact the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (10am-4pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our listening service is available Mondays and Tuesdays, between 9am-7pm.
Carers UK responds to research published today by Macmillan Cancer Support, which shows that around 110,000 people in the UK are caring for a parent with cancer, whilst also looking after their own children .
Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:
“In raising awareness of the pressures facing people who are caring for a parent with cancer whilst also looking after their young children and often juggling work, Macmillan’s research highlights a far wider and deeper issue for carers who support loved ones across many conditions.
“Indeed, there are a staggering 2.4 million people who are sandwiched between raising families of their own whilst providing care to an older loved one with a disability or chronic illness. And it is women who are more likely to shoulder this responsibility, with our research showing that they are four times more likely than men to have given up work due to multiple caring responsibilities.
“Today’s report adds to growing evidence that this is fast becoming one of the hardest pressed generations . As a society, we must recognise that we all likely to either receive or provide care at some point in our lives. Without the right support at the right time, caring can take a serious toll on carers’ health, finances and ability to have a life outside of caring. With this in mind, the Government must use the opportunity of its new Carers Strategy to make lasting change in the way public services and workplaces support families.”
Carers UK is here with advice, information and support wherever you are on your caring journey. For practical advice and information about caring:
Today, the so-called bedroom tax has been declared discriminatory by Court of Appeal judges, following a legal challenge by grandparents who care for their disabled grandson and a survivor of domestic violence.
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to the Secretary of State to appeal to the Supreme Court against today’s decision that the discrimination caused by the bedroom tax breaks the law.
Paul and Susan Rutherford care for their profoundly disabled 14-year-old grandson and live in a specially adapted home, which has a room for a professional care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This has been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit has been reduced. This is despite there being an exemption for disabled adults in the same situation. Today, the Court of Appeal judges accepted that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against disabled children requiring overnight care, as it does not allow for an additional bedroom for their overnight carer.
Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, gave a statement of evidence in the original case which was referenced in today’s judgment. Ms Holzhausen argued that families who have a clear need for additional bedrooms for a carer should be entitled to an additional room; and that alternatives suggested by the government – such as moving to smaller accommodation or taking in a lodger – are not appropriate for carers.
60,000 carers are currently affected by the bedroom tax.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “This policy is having a catastrophic impact on families, many of whom are already struggling practically, emotionally and financially to care for seriously-ill or disabled loved ones.
“Carers UK has argued that the policy unfairly penalises carers since it was first introduced in April 2013. Our research shows that those carers who are affected by the bedroom tax are being left unable to pay their electricity and heating bills and some families are falling behind on their rent and facing eviction.
“Following today’s ruling, we urge the Government to amend the regulations to protect carers and their families. The policy is clearly having a devastating impact on vulnerable families and the Government cannot allow this to continue.”