The government has announced a new £42.6 million Accelerating Reform Fund for adult social care, which will focus on trialling and expanding new approaches to providing care and improving services for unpaid carers.
Local authorities have been invited to register for a share of the grant funding for projects in their area, including new digital tools for recruitment and retention, and increased social prescribing.
The Accelerating Reform Fund is part of the Department’s Innovation and Improvement Unit and will focus on three objectives:
That people have choice, control and support to live independent lives
People can receive outstanding quality and tailored care and support
People find adult social care fair and accessible.
Kirsty McHugh, Carers Trust’s CEO, said: “Carers Trust welcomes the focus in the Accelerating Reform Fund on the essential role that unpaid family carers play in our health and social care system. We know from our network of local carer organisations that innovation is already underway across the country.
“We’re therefore looking forward to some fruitful collaborations between local authorities, local carer organisations and unpaid family carers themselves in the development and scaling of support which provide unpaid family carers with the help they desperately need.”
Examples of projects include Shared Lives, a care and support service that matches people aged 16 and above who want to live independently in their community with Shared Lives carers. People move in with their Shared Lives carers and are supported within the context of the carer’s home and family. Support can vary depending on what suits the person, but can include temporary care and support, a day service, or longer-term overnight care.
An independent cost comparison of Shared Lives found that it has significantly lower costs for people with learning disabilities and people with mental ill health than other forms of regulated social care, such as residential care. Research by the Social Care Institute for Excellence found that Shared Lives can result in an average saving of £8,000 for people with mental health needs and £26,000 for people with learning disabilities.
More examples of innovation priorities, including case studies, are available here.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, added: “We’re pleased that the £25 million committed to unpaid carers is now in play – it will be vital in helping to establish innovative and supportive local practices that support unpaid carers’ needs.
“With an estimated 12,000 people a day becoming unpaid carers, and a rise in the numbers providing more than 50 hours of care each week, this funding is really necessary. We hope it paves the way forward for longer-term innovation and support that is focused on unpaid carers’ unique needs.”
The fund will support local authorities to take forward projects relevant to their local needs, working collaboratively with local partners in their Integrated Care System regions, including the NHS, care providers and voluntary and community sector groups.
It will support at least two projects per region, with one of those having a particular focus on unpaid carers. All projects should consider the needs of people who receive care as well as unpaid carers, and ensure they are inclusive of the diverse needs of local populations.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence will be offering hands-on support to local authorities to develop local partnerships and deliver projects. The institute will also collect and share valuable learnings from projects across the country