New Year, new opportunities, same priorities

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? At Carers Trust we’ve been thinking about our plans for 2016 and although we will want to try out new ways of delivering our campaigns, at the heart of what we do will remain the same priority: supporting unpaid carers.

And as we scan ahead into 2016, we have plenty of new opportunities to do just that. Continue reading


February 2, 2016 Posted by | Budget, Care Act, Scotland, Wales | Leave a comment

Regulation and Inspection in Wales: Too far or not far enough?

Although it’s a certain election on 7 May that’s getting the headlines, the business of government carries on in Wales with big changes to social care in Wales currently making their way through the National Assembly for Wales. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Wales | Leave a comment

Recognise and prioritise the role of carers

This blog was written by Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

Today is the first day of my last month as Chief Executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. I have worked with and for The Trust for over 17 years so it is with a real mixture of feelings that I am writing this blog.

Mother and son outside Carers' Centre

You cannot do a job like this and just walk away

When I started back in 1994 it was to establish one of the first Princess Royal Trust Carers’ Centres. Those were such exciting times filled with hope and aspirations.

In 1995 we had the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act.  This was the first piece of legislation that really recognised the role of carers, their needs and the benefits of ensuring they have support in their own right.

Malcolm Wicks MP did a great job pushing the bill through and I remember so well the feeling of elation that we now had something on the statute books about and for carers. I also remember a feeling of frustration that no money came with the Act. Good local authorities were already looking at ways to support carers!

I remember working with the head of the local social work team to train all their staff on the contents of the Act. This proved to be a brilliant opportunity to form real lasting relationships between the Carers’ Centre and the social work team, and between social workers and the carers who helped with the training.

I was extremely proud that following this training the Carers’ Centre was no longer seen as a place to avoid, but rather a place for social workers to turn to for information, advice and support. The Trust was able to grow and between us we delivered some real ground breaking support.

There have been a few significant pieces of legislation passed since then, including the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004, and I am sure there will be further development to ensure carers’ rights regarding access to accurate and timely information, emotional and practical support, and respite breaks.

Some things have changed for the better since 1994 but some have not.  My fear as I leave is that in these austere times the much needed support for carers may get watered down and what I still to this day believe is a fantastic model of local carers support services will be diluted.

Having witnessed first-hand the difference our network of local carer services can make to the lives of carers and those they care for I truly hope that this is not the case.

Last year in the run up to the elections  we saw all of the main party leaders speak about the need to support carers and of the fantastic work that carers do. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, remember your words and stay true to ensuring carers do have the support they need to fulfil their caring roles and be able to be full citizens of the UK.

Leaders of parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must also prioritise carers and I know colleagues are working to push this in preparations for upcoming elections there.

So as I reach my final weeks with The Trust what will I miss?  When my children were young and when I cared for my husband, work had to be around these very important roles so lots of part-time, evening and night working.

For the past three years I have spent most of my working week travelling and being away from home, and I know I won’t miss that.  But I will really miss the camaraderie of colleagues, network members, and carers’ organisations that I have worked alongside to try to improve the lives of carers.

I will miss the engagement with carers.  Meeting carers whether at Pontin’s when we did the carers breaks there; at Carers’ Centres or conferences and other events has always kept me both grounded and focused.

I will miss working with our President HRH The Princess Royal who I have found to be extremely supportive and knowledgeable about the cause, and incredibly hard working.

You cannot do a job like this and just walk away. Although I am not sure how, when or where, I do know that I will continue to watch what is happening and continue to do whatever I can to influence better support services for carers.

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Big Society, Carers movement, General Election, Law, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales | , , , | 5 Comments

Carers Engagement Key to Planning of Legislation

Note: The following blog post has been contributed by Martyn Pengilley who is the Policy and Welsh Assembly Officer for Crossroads Care.

gavel, balance scales and legal books

How legislation impacts on services for carers is becoming increasingly different across the four nations as the powers under the devolution settlement are taken up where health and social care are concerned.

Recently in Wales, we have a Carers Strategies Measure that addresses information and support for carers in statutory bodies, proceeding through the necessary stages before passing onto the statute book. This is quickly being followed by a Mental Health Measure that also has a section devoted to carers’ needs for information and advice.

Questions are still being asked on what definition of a carer should be in legislation and recognition of the roles that a carer may take can affect how services are provided to individuals.

The advocacy role is one that is increasingly needed to be played, not only by carer’s services, but by the carers themselves. Engagement and participation by service users and carers is seen by legislators as being vital to getting it right.

This is taking many forms here, as participation in policy-making develops. We have research into “how to be involved” taking place and there are any number of schemes /projects on what and how to do it. The weaving of services user /carers’ views and opinions into the planning of services and legislation is seen as adding considerable knowledge and experience to the process.

Will it be of benefit to changing people’s lives and will the impact of carers’ involvement be measured in any way? We have yet to see that outcome being demonstrated. Feeding back the impact to carers will be critical to any future participation. I get the feeling that consultation fatigue is starting to take a grip.

Real participation in policy and planning decisions and being in a position to advocate in a meaningful way from inside the tent should not be taken lightly. Giving up the opportunity should not be either.

July 19, 2010 Posted by | Health, Law, Social Care, Wales | , , , , | 2 Comments