Oliver Colvile MP: A new model for carer support
In response to the publication or the Government’s Mental Health Action Plan, Conservative MP Oliver Colvile explains why involving carers is vital to improving care.
Recent health and social care reforms have placed a great deal of emphasis on recognising and supporting carers. As we face the growing cost and scale of supporting an ageing population, carers save our economy £119 billion a year and it is absolutely right that the Government has prioritised carers’ needs for support.
Today, the Government is building on the proposals in the Care Bill, by announcing that support for carers will be a critical part of its Mental Health Action Plan for improving mental health care.
This is a welcome step, too often carers of people with mental health conditions are not recognised at all, and family and friends who care for their loved ones, remain hidden from view. In my Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency, where Plymouth University and Devonport dockyard are employers at the forefront of dementia care, I have seen how naval families frequently take on caring roles, but support is not always available to them. Caring is an experience that can change family life beyond recognition. Injury, illness and disability impact upon every day activities and decisions. Taking on caring responsibilities, everything from paying bills to administering medication, can have a detrimental impact on a carers’ health and ability to have a life of their own.
But, mental health illness can be less visible than other illnesses, less predictable and often misunderstood, and the impact of conditions like depression, can be extremely challenging for carers. It can be more difficult for carers to access help, if their caring role is less about practical tasks or if the condition of the person they are caring for has not been diagnosed.
I am concerned that carers of people with conditions that affect someone’s behaviour and emotional health and wellbeing, are not receiving the advice and support that they need. This is despite considerable evidence that involving and supporting family carers leads to better outcomes for patients, carers and ultimately the professionals supporting them.
Carers Trust’s work with mental health providers across the country and Triangle of Care model for involving carers, service users and professionals, is having a significant impact on practice. Adoption of the model is proving that better collaboration and partnership with carers, can promote communication and sustain wellbeing and improve health outcomes for both service user and carer.
I am encouraged that the Government has recognised the effectiveness of The Triangle of Care model in the Mental Health Action Plan, and that the Triangle of Care adapted for people with dementia, is being launched in Parliament today. There are practical ways that support can be improved for carers, regardless of who they care for and the challenges involved, and the Government’s policy to ensure carers are at the heart of improvements to mental health care should be welcomed. It’s not rocket science, it’s mental health.