Unpaid carers in Wales get help with £5.8m for training
New regulations aimed at supporting unpaid carers in Wales have come into force.
They will mean that over the next three years, £5.8m will go to health boards to help them train staff and work on plans to help carers obtain better information and guidance.
They also oblige bodies such as health boards and local councils to publish strategies to benefit unpaid carers.
The regulations were approved unanimously by AMs in December.
The strategies have to be submitted to the Welsh government by the end of October.
These plans must also lay out the process under which carers will be consulted and involved in decisions which affect them and the people they look after.
Deputy Children and Social Services Minister Gwenda Thomas said she had been repeatedly told by carers that they wanted improved access to more information and guidance.
"Unpaid carers do vital work, carrying out up to 95% of care in the community supporting families and friends," said Mrs Thomas.
One charity has claimed that the annual value of unpaid work by carers in Wales is £7.7bn.
Last May Carers Wales urged more help for people looking after others, and estimated there are about 370,000 providing care that would otherwise cost £18 an hour.
The first designated authorities who must design strategies under The Carers Strategies (Wales) Regulations 2011 are all Wales' Local Health Boards (LHBs) and social services departments, Velindre NHS Trust and the Welsh Ambulance Trust.
Once the strategies are in place they will be reviewed every 18 months to ensure they still do the job.
"Carers deserve our support and these regulations are aimed at helping them in the important work they do," said Mrs Thomas.