Introduction

The importance of unpaid care, and the support of people providing unpaid care, have been key issues in adult social care practice for some time and, if anything, are becoming even more important in policy terms. If councils are to improve support and target it effectively, they need to be able to identify carers, understand factors associated with their quality of life (QoL) and understand the impact of what they are doing locally. The project aims to provide recommendations for councils about identifying and supporting unpaid carers and how they can use and interpret data from carer experience surveys to improve practice. We will draw on two large-scale surveys of carers conducted in 2009/10, one of which reflected carers in the general population and one of which was conducted by councils. The first strand of the project will compare carers in the general population with those known to councils, and the second will analyse factors associated with the QoL of carers. Characteristics of councils that appear most effective in identifying and supporting carers will be identified and recommendations made for councils to inform policies, practice and use of carer experience data to improve local policies and practice in future.