We have known for a long time that the number of people taking on unpaid caring responsibilities has exceeded the population growth rate of the UK. Following the Covid 19 pandemic the number of carers has grown exponentially from an estimated 6.5 million people to a staggering 13 million unpaid carers. Providing vital support to friends and family who could not manage without them, the input of unpaid Carers is pivotal to the sustainability of health and care services, and yet, often, their own physical and emotional wellbeing is compromised as a direct result of their caring role. Carers have an estimated value to health and social care systems of £132 billion a year and the timely identification and offer of meaningful support to carers contributes to a more cohesive, integrated and effective care system.
The Long Term Plan set out clear commitments for the NHS to improve the identification and support of unpaid Carers. Building on the rights created by the Care Act and the Children & Families Act and reflecting the ambitions being set out for the delivery of services across integrated care systems. NHS England is driving forward initiatives which highlight system based arrangements, which embed the timely identification and support of carers within their core workstreams that focus on effective support within primary care, provision of contingency plans, creating a more inclusive offer for carers from vulnerable communities and ensuring that Young Carers are integral to these plans .
Judges will be looking for Integrated Care System with case study examples of this work in practice. Patient and carer outcomes are key to the success stories judges want to hear about, together with an appreciation of the potential or realised economic benefits to the system which have been identified.
This award will recognise Integrated Care Systems working to deliver the Long Term Plan ambitions to support unpaid carers with resources and structures which demonstrate real integration across organisations such as the NHS, local authorities, voluntary and private sector providers.