Charity welcomes new law to support working carers support

A Yorkshire charity which supports carers juggling a work-life balance today welcomes long-awaited legal reforms which recognise the important role carers play – and their right to support.

From today, the new Care Act 2014 comes into force and for the first time adult carers’ needs are on an equal footing with the needs of the adults they look after.  It is particularly important for those who combine their caring responsibilities with employment.

Anne Smyth OBE, director of the Carers’ Resource,which has offices in Harrogate and Ripon, Skipton andShipley, supporting more than 12,000 carers across Yorkshire, said the rights and recognition of unpaid carers are now “strengthened and embodied” in the Act.

“The law will change overnight – but the world won’t change overnight,” she said.

“This is about changing culture. The Act – which is the biggest reform for carers in 60 years – is already being dubbed ‘The Carers’ Act’ and will put carers on an equal footing. It is a new dawn for carers.

“Carers will be entitled to have their own person-centred assessment of their needs irrespective of the needs of the person they care for and can receive a range of services in their own right.

The new law places a duty on local authorities, and those they choose to work with, to consider ‘wellbeing’ principles’ – for example the impact a caring role can have on an individual’s health, day-to-day life, relationships and ability to work or pursue hobbies.

Services could now also be delivered to the adult being cared for to help meet the health and wellbeing needs ofthe carer – an important example of this being respite.

Anna Jackson, head of development at Carers’ Resource, said: “If a carer is struggling to balance their own needs, such as staying in work or enjoying family time, with their caring role they should come and talk to us about the new rights the Act brings in and how this could help them.

“A lot of carers we speak to and support say they are overwhelmed, feel isolated and are struggling to find any time for themselves – even to have their hair cut – this Act will help to address this and gives a greater importance to the basic needs and wishes of the carer. 

“The Act defines a carer as ‘an adult who provides or intends to provide care for someone’ meaning carers who provide any level of care, and someone providing care short-term to an adult will also be covered.

“It also recognises ‘carers centres’ – which is what Carers’ Resource is – as being key to providing preventative support, for example providing carers access to information and advice about looking after themselves; reducing isolation through befriending and community activities; and encouraging carers to discuss their plans and fears for the future.

“We are already doing all this and much, much more.”

Staff at Carers’ Resource, which offers a range of tailor-made services for unpaid carers – such as information about wider support on offer; help and advice on training, education and employment; have all been trained on the new Act.

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