Forewords by the partners to this project
Social workers have the potential to transform carers’ lives, to support and listen to them, and to give them the tools to have a life of their own alongside their caring role. Ensuring that from the start of their careers social workers understand who carers are, and what their needs are, is essential. Too often this does not happen and carers have to fight for recognition. Carers UK hears regularly from carers what a difference a good or bad experience with social services can make to their lives.
This research shows how higher education institutions (HEIs) are involving carers in training social workers, and the benefits this has for all parties, but also the challenges involved. We welcome the recommendations about spreading good practice in this area, as some institutions and local authorities are excellent at involving carers in some areas of their work. They must ensure that they involve a wide range of carers, reflecting the diversity of the carer population. After all, any of us could become a carer at any time. We know how we would expect to be treated and we would therefore encourage all institutions to take note of the findings of this thorough research.
Chief Executive, Carers UK
It has been extremely positive to be part of the Carers as Partners (CaPs) initiative and we warmly welcome the report. Over our 35 years of providing breaks and support to carers we have had numerous opportunities to see the value of involving carers in the training of our own staff, and other social care professionals and seen too the significant impact on students as they link real lives to theory. The report highlights that there is still misunderstanding about the meaning of the word ‘carer’, which in turn illustrates the poor awareness of the huge contribution made by the millions of people who provide support to a relative or friend. While some progress is being made in differentiating ‘carer’ from ‘care worker’, there is still a long way to go. Ensuring newly qualified professionals start their working life with that understanding will be a major step forward. It is critical that carers receive recognition and are seen as expert partners in care and therefore we are very much in support of these findings and recommendations. We too will encourage our network of local schemes to support and collaborate with HEIs seeking to engage with carers.
Chief Executive, Crossroads Care