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Carers, self-care and volunteers reviews

As part of Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future we are undertaking reviews examining the training and education needs of unpaid carers, education and training to patients on self-care, and promoting high impact volunteering across the NHS.

The number of people caring for a close family member or friend, who could not cope without their support, is rising. People need to be supported to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their own conditions and to care for others.

  • Around 5.5 million people support a friend or family member as unpaid carers
  • 1.4 million unpaid carers care for more than 50 hours a week
  • 20% of carers do not have access to any support
  • Across health and care 3 million people regularly volunteer
  • There are 300,000 volunteers in over one hundred different roles across the NHS

The number of carers and volunteers far outweighs the combined health and social care workforce. They are not, and cannot become, substitutes for professional staff, but they are part of the care family, so need and deserve more support. Much preparatory work has been done; the government’s 2016 call for evidence on a carers’ strategy, NHS England’s work on self-management and HEE’s consultation on a volunteering strategy.

However, still more work is needed to support, enable and empower individuals, carers and volunteers through education and training. Recognising this, HEE is announcing a series of work streams and reviews to look at how we can better support the education and training needs of volunteers, carers and patients

  • HEE will work with Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, chair of HelpForce, on a new independent initiative to promote high impact volunteering across the NHS
  • HEE will work with unpaid carers and their representative organisations to consider healthcare education and training needs for unpaid carers, to empower and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need
  • HEE’s Patients Advisory Forum (PAF) will consider the role that HEE could play in providing education and training to patients on managing their conditions
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