Senedd told ‘we are failing in our duty’ to unpaid carers
Unpaid carers who are propping up the NHS are being failed whilst their own health and finances take a hit the Senedd has been told.
Altaf Hussein MS for South Wales West told his fellow MSs: “Unpaid carers save our NHS billions of pounds each year and without their care and dedication, our health and care system would collapse – we are failing in our duty. A wide variety of evidence shows that unpaid carers in Wales are suffering severe health and financial impacts as a result of their caring responsibilities.”
The Senedd heard that the recent evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 found that it was failing to deliver the intended outcomes for unpaid carers, with their legal rights often not being met by the local authorities.
According to Carers Trust Wales there are at least 370,000 carers in Wales they know of and points out this figure is 10% more than the population of Cardiff.
The charity says three in five of us will become carers at some point in our lives.
An unpaid carer is anyone who cares for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support. Unpaid carers might care for someone for a few hours each week, or as much as 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
First Minister Mark Drakeford MS informed the Senedd: “The Minister has commissioned a rapid review of carers’ rights at a local authority level. The Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru has undertaken that review, and we expect their recommendations to be with the Minister by the end of this month. We have a higher proportion of the population in Wales who carry out unpaid caring duties.”
Jane Dodds MS for Mid and West Wales said: “Our carers face financial challenges, as we know. Many of them work full time, and then care on top of that; some have had to give up their roles and work part time, but financial issues are a real challenge for our unpaid carers. One in four of the carers in Wales report that they’ve had to cut down on heating or eating.”
Vikki Howells MS for Cynon Valley said: that there are “thousands of young carers in Wales at risk of becoming vulnerable when the level of caregiving and responsibility becomes too much.”
Welsh Government has invested £600,000 in the young carers ID card roll-out which is now available Wales wide. Mr Drakeford said more than 1,700 young carers now possess such a card, and it allows them to corroborate their status, whether that is in school or whether it’s when they’re going to a pharmacy to collect prescriptions, without having to go through every time answering difficult questions about why it is they are having to do what they need to do.
Last year nearly 300 young carers came together in Builth Wells over three days for the first ever Young Carers Festival in Wales which will be repeated this year said Mr Drakeford.
Mr Drakeford agreed that more could be done if further funding were available and revealed that this coming Friday (9 June), “There will be a launch of a new third sector grant scheme called Amser which will allow unpaid carers to take breaks from caring.”
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