Carers Week – what does it mean to us?

June 9, 2014

This week marks the 20th Carers Week, with many organisations and individuals pledging their support to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for. Like them, we confirmed our support, pledging “to continue to ensure research on care and support for carers remains high on our research agenda, that carers are actively involved in our activities, and that we ensure findings from our research are communicated widely to support policy and practice developments”. Why? Because the evidence base is still limited and more research is needed to ensure the care and support provided for both carers and the people they care for is the right support in changing policy and practice settings, especially with ever tightening budgets.

Our range of research studies have focused on projected numbers of carers in the future (particularly for older people), support to balance care and employment, carers’ quality of life and experiences of adult social care in England, evaluation of coping strategies and peer support for carers of people with dementia, personalisation and carers, as well as wider evidence reviews. We will highlight some of the findings from these studies over the week; here Research Officer Valentina Zigante talks about her research on informal care.

It’s extremely important to us that our research supports improvements in policy and practice for carers and the people they care for. Many of our findings have fed into key national policy documents, for example:

  • the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on social care (2010)
  • the Government’s Carers Strategy (2010)
  • reports accompanying the Dilnot Commission Report (2011)
  • two OECD reports (2011, 2012)

And have been used by Carers UK (for example to demonstrate the costs of caring to the government last year).

Equally important is that carers inform our research, both through membership of project advisory groups and as active members of research teams. Our most recent staff member – Margaret Dangoor, a carer for her partner who has dementia – joined us to lead user and carer involvement for a new 48-month study modelling the costs and outcomes of dementia (the MODEM study). Here Margaret talks about her involvement in the NIHR School for Social Care Research, in which PSSRU is a founding partner, which led to her involvement in the MODEM study.

Our research on unpaid care continues to be an important aspect of our wider research into social care, health and mental health policy and practice in England, as does the involvement of carers within this. We pledge to ensure our research findings do not become reports on shelves but support the improvement of the lives of carers and the people they care for.

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