Carers have a particular and specific need for information and advice to both help them in their caring role and help them maintain their own best health. The Government has a continuing interest in providing the mechanisms through which information and advice can be easily accessed by carers. Carers Direct was set up in 2009 to provide a focused information and advice service to carers. It comprises two separate, but interrelated, service components;
- The Carers Direct information website
- The Carers Direct contact centre and telephone helpline.
These two distinct approaches to providing advice and information has been provided by two separate suppliers. The Carers Direct website is provided through NHS Choices and forms a component of their wider advice and information provision. The delivery of the Carers Direct helpline is contracted through bss (a charity that specialises in information provision for the statutory and third sectors). As part of its work to support the telephone helpline, bss also provides the maintenance and updating of the underpinning knowledge base and the local service directory that underpin the content of Carers Direct. The Carers Direct website on NHS Choices is reliant on bss for the provision of new material, regular updating of content and development / maintenance of the directory of local services for the website. This report reviews the performance of Carers Direct with respect to meeting its original policy objectives and undertakes to provide policy, operational and funding options for the future of this service.