Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
On National Carers’ Rights Day I pay tribute to those people who look after others out of love rather than for any material reward. People caring for family and friends is the bedrock of a reciprocal society. All of us will have times in our life when we need some looking after and most of us will find ourselves caring for someone close to us at some point.
This is true for young people as well as for adults. The most recent Schools Health Research Network Survey found 16% of 11-16 year olds in Wales to have a current caring responsibility for someone in their family as a result of them being disabled, physically or mentally unwell or having a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Some people whose unpaid caring role takes up a great deal their time and energy find this role very challenging without some support. The numbers of people in Wales who are more heavily involved in caring are quite substantial. The National Survey for Wales found 6% people in Wales aged 16 and over to be caring for a relative, friend or neighbour for at least 20 hours a week.
In the 2014 Social Services and Well-Being Act, unpaid carers were given the same rights to care and support as the people they care for. We are committed to ensuring this Act is successfully implemented and monitored. Local authorities’ performance reporting systems provide an insight into support for carers, and we have commissioned a major independent evaluation of how the Act is working out in practice.
In November 2017, we announced three national priorities to support the delivery of the enhanced rights for carers under the Social Services and Well-being Act:
- Supporting life alongside caring
- Identifying and recognising carers
- Providing information, advice and assistance.
We now intend to strengthen the national co-ordination of support for carers by building on the three priorities announced two years ago to develop a national action plan in 2020. This plan will be drawn up on the basis of co-production with carers themselves, carers’ organisations and all the main relevant public services through the Ministerial Advisory Group for carers’ issues. The national plan will operate across Government, looking at all relevant areas of policy.
On National Carers’ Rights Day, we mark the launch of a national campaign to make carers aware of their rights under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act. Working with our partners to reach carers of all ages, in all parts of our communities, we will make sure our message is better heard. More carers must understand they have the same right to be assessed for support as the people they care for. Today we have published new materials which begin the first phase in a targeted and sustained campaign. Clear, concise posters and leaflets will shortly be viewed and distributed in various outlets across Wales, and electronic copies are being sent to a network of stakeholders. The new campaign material can now be viewed on the Welsh Government website by following the link below.