10.06.09

New Hotline for Carers Launched

A new one-stop information and advice service for the army of carers who look after ill, frail or disabled friends and relatives has been launched by Care Services Minister, Phil Hope.

The new Carers Direct hotline* is designed to make the lives of England’s five million carers easier by removing the stress of searching out essential advice.

The Carers Direct hotline includes details of support available, such as information on:

  • Assessments, benefits, direct payments, individual budgets and time off.
  • Help to maintain, leave or return to employment
  • Help in education or training.
  • Advice on how carers maintain or improve their social and emotional well-being and their physical and mental health.
  • Access to health and social care for the person being cared for.
  • How to access information about, and support from, health and social care services for the person being cared for.

Its launch comes on the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s Carers Strategy. Since last year, carers are being given more planned breaks and better information about their rights and the support available to them. Later this year, they will also receive more support to get or return to work.

Speaking at the launch of Carers Direct in Islington, Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: “I know that carers’ lives are often made unnecessarily difficult if they have to struggle to find the information, advice and support they need. I hope Carers Direct will put this right. I have huge respect and admiration for the five million carers in England, who do fantastic work every day. The Carers Strategy has already gone a long way to better support carers, but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Other initiatives from the Carers Strategy being developed include:

  • piloting a ‘return-to-work’ training entitlement of up to £500 for those who undertake more than 5 years of caring responsibilities, helping them to get the skills they need to get back into the labour market;
  • enabling Jobcentre Plus to provide a range of new services to carers, such as better training for advisors on awareness of carers needs and displaying more information on vacancies offering flexible working.

*Carers Direct comprises a website (www.nhs.uk/carersdirect) and a seven-days-a-week helpline (freephone 0808 802 0202, email and post).