Carers To Get Legal Rights Under New Reforms

People who give up their jobs to care for relatives will get stronger rights to seek financial and practical help under reforms to pensions and social care.

At the focus of the planned legislation, which is set to be announced in the Queen's Speech this week, is help for carers who look after people with conditions such as dementia.

According to the Alzheimer's Society , there are currently 670,000 people in the UK caring for family or friends with dementia and that figure is set to grow with the ageing population.

Shadia Ousta-Doerfel's father lived with dementia for more than two years before he died in 2009.

She shared the responsibility of caring for him with her family, taking it in turns to ensure he was looked after.

She said: "The person is still alive, they are not dying as such.

"You have to interact with them and engage rather than just telling them to be quiet.

"Things like dinner became an issue because dad would often forget he had had dinner and wanted to have it all over again and we had to formulate a response to persuade him.

"We also had to make sure he was monitored around the clock, as he would often walk out of the house in the early hours."

Ms Ousta-Doerfel added that her family was offered little support.

"We had to do a lot of our own research and soul searching," she said.

"It was so hard to know what to do and how to progress. There are first aid courses on how to care for someone with a broken leg but not for someone who has dementia."

The Government plans to address this problem by offering a package of measures to modernise the care system.

Minister of state for care and support Norman Lamb said: "For the first time we are introducing new rights for carers so they will get the same right to support as the person they are looking after and also the right to assessment by their local authority."

While many welcome the proposed new legislation, there remains scepticism on how the coalition is going to put their plans into practice.

Patrick Nolan, chief economist from Reform , said money is the biggest challenge.

"This is not just a commitment for the next couple of years but for decades," he said.

"If we look forward 30 or 40 years, the money worries will be even worse as the population gets older.

"So the concern we have at Reform is how this legislation is going to be afforded."