Supplementary Question on End-of-Life Care and Marie Curie’s Daffodil Appeal
Joyce Watson: Beth y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn ei wneud i gefnogi pobl â chyfrifoldebau gofalu.
[What is the Welsh Government doing to support people with caring responsibilities.]
Gwenda Thomas (Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services): We have been working with the local health boards to finalise their carers information and consultation strategies under the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010. In April, we will publish our refreshed carers strategy for Wales, and we have also included new rights for carers in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill.
Joyce Watson: Thank you for that answer, Deputy Minister. I look forward to the refreshed carers strategy and the social services Bill, which will be a decisive step forward for carers’ rights in Wales. I do not need to tell you that one in eight people in Wales now have caring responsibilities, and that that figure is closer to a fifth among older people. So, with increased pressure on families and the Westminster Government limiting disability allowance, it is crucial that carers get the support that they need. What is the Welsh Government doing to identify and to offer support for hidden carers, namely those who provide priceless support to their loved ones, but receive little support or training?
Gwenda Thomas: Thank you for that supplementary question and I totally agree that early identification is key to carers getting the information, advice and support that they need to sustain them in their caring role. Many carers, especially those caring for elderly spouses, simply do not see themselves as carers until a crisis point is reached. Sometimes the professionals with whom they come into contact in their daily lives fail to recognise this or signpost them to appropriate sources of support. This is one of the issues that the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 was designed to address and the strategies must also set out how health boards and local authorities will consult and engage with carers.
William Graham: I am mostly encouraged by what you have said, Deputy Minister. Clearly the refreshed carers strategy is increasingly important for a life beyond caring, as you identify. What would you propose in terms of monitoring the outcomes of this strategy? It is vital that you are able to publish figures for young carers, in particular, who are able to manage their transition into a working life or higher education.
Gwenda Thomas: Yes, indeed. Thank you for that. I have issued statements on these strategies quite regularly and we are now at the point of implementing them. The monitoring of the effectiveness of those strategies will be wholly important. There is, built into that process, I think, effective ongoing monitoring as time goes on.
Lindsay Whittle: Have you had any meetings with the Minister for Education and Skills to ensure that our schools are aware of their responsibilities to young carers, to ensure that those young carers are not disadvantaged in their education?
Gwenda Thomas: Thank you for that very important point. You know that there is a cross-portfolio duty to consider the rights of children in the Government. This is one issue. I am sure that you will be glad to know that, in April, we will be launching a new app for child carers to effectively communicate with them in the language and the way in which they want to be communicated with.
Mark Drakeford: Deputy Minister, help for families who are providing end-of-life care is especially important. Marie Curie launched its great daffodil appeal for this year in this building yesterday, and it recently published findings that suggest that 80% of Welsh families feel confident that they would get the help that they would need in such circumstances from family and friends—that is the highest figure in the whole of the UK. However, only 50% of them are confident that they would get the help that they need from services in the NHS and social care. Again, that was the highest figure in the UK, but what more do you think can be done to ensure that there is confidence among families and carers in the services with which they would be provided at the end of their lives?
Gwenda Thomas: I thank Mark Drakeford for that. We have made great progress under the leadership of the palliative care implementation board in improving the quality of care at the end of life. We are committed to ensuring that the views of patients and their families feed back into the system to drive service improvement. We have introduced the I Want Great Care survey, which provides quantitative and qualitative feedback for organisations, departments, wards and clinics. This survey gives real insight with data to support continuous improvement and is proven to engage frontline clinical teams. On 12 December last year, the Minister for health launched the Dying Well Matters in Wales helpline and, in April, the Minister will launch ‘Together for Health—Delivering End of Life Care’.