Carers are integral to health care improvement. This report highlights evidence that shows “the economic value of the contribution they make is £119bn per year”. However, without support, carers can feel isolated, depressed, and may be living in poor financial circumstances, which can lead to poor health for the carer too. The problem health and social care services is that if carers are insufficiently supported and become ill, someone else has to take care of the patient, adding to existing costs. The patient may have to go into hospital for care or require additional social services, which would otherwise have been delivered by the carer. Increased hospital admissions are not good for the patient or for the hospital. People with long-term conditions would prefer to be at home with people they are familiar with.
Cost and qualityThis report has been published to show commissioners, clinical commissioning groups, and local authorities, how important it is to commission for carers as this will help them achieve the desired outcomes and savings across health and social care. The report says that good commissioning for carers can reduce:
- hospital and residential care admissions
- costs of transfer delays
- poor health in carers and their access to primary care
- spending on care.
Carers are key
The authors suggest that carers are key to meeting financial targets and integrating between health and social care. They look at 5 areas where commissioners should focus on when commissioning for carers and provide practical examples where this has successfully been achieved:
- Reducing hospital length-of-stay for patients with long-term conditions
- Managing health inequalities
- Dementia care improvement
- Quality of life improvement for people with long-term conditions
- Providing safe and high quality care
In addition to good practice examples, the report provides access to supporting tools and organisations, such as the Carers’ Hub, and the Carers Trust.
Carers are often forgotten about in health because the main focus is the patient. However, they are the lynchpin to improving the patient experience as they understand all the patient’s needs, while the health professionals only understand the health needs, and social services only understand the social care needs. Carers are fully informed, but this is a demanding role and they need more support. As this report shows, if commissioners can ensure that services for carers are provided, this will benefit both the patient, the carer, and health and social care services.
Do you provide any services for carers in your area? How often do you think of the carer role? What other departments should you be working with to ensure that carers are adequately supported. Making sure that carers have what they need to maintain a good life for themselves while caring for their loved one, can improve the outcome for the patient and reduce costs for public services. Think about how this can be achieved in your organisation.
Commissioning for carers: Key principles for Clinical Commissioning Groups (PDF)
This is a resource to help people identify needs and commission and develop services for carers.