The impact of Care Act Easements under the Coronavirus Act 2020 on co-resident older carers of partners with dementia

Award Number
Policy Research Programme
Status / Stage
2 April 2021 -
30 November 2022
Duration (calculated)
01 years 07 months
Funding Amount
Funder/Grant study page
Contracted Centre
The University of Manchester
Contracted Centre Webpage
Principal Investigator
Professor Debora Price
PI Contact
WHO Catergories
Legislative and regulatory environments
Disease Type
Dementia (Unspecified)

CPEC Review Info
Reference ID130
ResearcherReside Team


Award NumberNIHR202259
Status / StageCompleted
Start Date20210402
End Date20221130
Duration (calculated) 01 years 07 months
Funder/Grant study pageNIHR
Contracted CentreThe University of Manchester
Contracted Centre Webpage
Funding Amount£203,197.00


The Coronavirus Act 2020 contains the unprecedented power for local authorities to suspend the majority of their duties within adult social care under the Care Act 2014, leaving only a residual duty to protect human rights (“easements”). This proposal investigates the impact of easements on co-resident older carers (age 70+) of partners living with dementia in the community. Such carers typically have their own high levels of health and care needs, but are often isolated and invisible. Eight local authorities triggered easements between April and August 2020. Many others have suspended services without triggering easements, potentially exposing themselves to legal action. In the event of local lockdowns or a second wave, easements are part of the strategic planning of a number of authorities. We currently have no understanding of the consequences of care easements for the people affected nor how to mitigate urgent needs arising from easements, from either carer or local authority perspectives. There is little official guidance that applies meaningfully to these carers. g. A survey of our population of interest, seeking to obtain 500 responses; this will be an observational non-probability non-randomised sample validating reported experiences at scale and with sufficient power to compare groups in easement and non-easement local authorities. This will be multimodal utilising online and paper methods, using validated question sets asking about coping, support, socio-demographics, health and wellbeing, and questions developed from interview data. Understanding the impact of Care Act easements is crucial for government, local authorities, care providers, NHS commissioners and providers, civil society, charities, individuals and their families. This understanding is relevant for the drawing up and implementation of emergency legislation, drafting guidance, providing/resuming services, arguing for resources and system change, and protecting human rights. Specifically, evidence on this problem will inform the six-monthly parliamentary reviews of the Coronavirus Act, proposed Parliamentary debates, safety and regulation, access to health and social care, funding priorities, and systemic understanding of social care in the pandemic.


The objective of this project is to investigate the impacts of care easements on older co-resident carers of partners living with dementia to make recommendations about the operation of this legislation now and in the event of another wave or similar pandemic. The project aims to: document the impacts of care easements and reinstatement of statutory duties; compare these with experiences in local authorities where easements were not formally triggered but services may have been cut; understand how policymakers with safeguarding responsibilities have approached the issues; understand and document current urgent needs. We will work with our established networks and project partners, and specifically with a co-production group of 8 carers. There are three workstreams: 48 in-depth interviews with purposively selected carers in 4 local authorities, (a) two where easements were triggered for sustained time and (b) two where no easements were triggered. In-depth interviews with 10 safeguarding leads and 10 social work leads about services retrenchment and easements, exploring processes, ethical and legal frameworks, and burdens of decision making.