British Journal of Social Work, 40(5) pp 1470-1487
The Carers Strategies in England and Wales herald opportunities to develop new ways to support carers. This paper reports findings from a five-year study looking at the Carers Strategy in Wales. It presents interview data arising from fieldwork with carers and statutory and voluntary sector staff. Our findings highlight a gap between the positive perceptions of staff concerning improvements in the availability and types of support to carers and carers’ everyday experiences. Whilst staff suggested that the Carers Strategy has encouraged the development of innovative services that broaden the parameters of support to carers, this was not always reflected in carers’ experiences. Staff highlighted changes to the carer assessment process that specify carer-defined outcomes must be made explicit as having had a positive effect on the commissioning and delivery of new services. However, only a limited number of carers were in receipt of these services and they reported problems relating to their organisation and delivery. This paper offers insights that are instructive to practitioners as they seek to implement person-centred and outcome-focused approaches to supporting carers. The need to pay closer attention to carer-defined outcomes and capture carer perspectives on the quality of services is highlighted.