Council call to carers – let us know who you are
Posted on: 12 January 2018
While today’s news stories often focus around the financial and demand pressures on the NHS and social services, there’s a silent workforce out there that is more than pulling its weight, and that is also feeling the strain.
Carers – looking after husbands, wives, family members, vulnerable children, neighbours and friends without payment – account for most of the ‘care and support’ that keeps thousands of people in Devon independent. Fact.
While the NHS and social services provide vital care and support to very vulnerable people, it’s carers that do most of the leg work every hour, every day, caring for those they know and love.
Carers, generally speaking, are heads down, sleeves rolled up kind of people, getting on with the task in hand. Many don’t consider themselves to be ‘carers’, they’re just doing what needs to be done, and many do not seek support which means right now they’re missing out on help available to them.
And there lies a big challenge to authorities who want to support carers.
There are an estimated 90,000 people providing unpaid care for loved ones and friends in Devon, but 20,000 known to the County’s carers’ support services.
Devon County Council, with partners NEW Devon CCG and South Devon and Torbay CCG, is announcing a new carers support service.
The Council’s current contract for support to carers comes to a natural end in May, from which time there will be an improved service ready to build on those solid foundations.
And it is genuinely an improved service. Devon County Council, as lead for the contract, has taken considerable time in trying to get the contract right, asking and listening to carers to understand better what support they want.
“There is no better test of a service than to ask those that use it what they think of it. And no better way to improve carers support services than to involve carers in the design of the service,” says Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care.
So keeping what works well, and doing more of the type of support wanted by carers but that hasn’t been available, is the way forward.
The new contract builds on what carers say they currently like – the close links with GPs; the single number helpline; having local support staff available around Devon; the carers health and wellbeing checks; the training that is available.
Carers say that they value a lot the sort of support they get from other carers, people experiencing similar challenges to themselves. “Peer Support” is already available in the current service but the Council is making it central to its carers’ service, developing more opportunities for more carers to support each other.
But new to the contract is much more focus and support to help carers caring for people with specific and complex care needs such as those relating to mental health or autism.
Increased support will help people understand and ‘navigate the system’. Better training will help carers attain more skills. Focused support will be directed to carers of people with more serious conditions.
Carers support services are becoming more targeted and more specialised.
Councillor Leadbetter said:
“We can have the best services in the world, but our biggest challenge is reaching people to tell them. The new contract will focus very hard on making support more visible and accessible, using both traditional methods and new digital technologies to communicate better. That way we aim to identify many more carers in Devon than we currently know.
“Over coming months we’ll move to the new service. Carers known to us don’t need to do anything, unless their contact details have changed in which case we’d like to know.
“But I’m calling today to carers in Devon – people who are looking after their husbands, wives, family members, vulnerable children, neighbours and friends – to let us know who they are, so that they can start to receive the information and support available to help them.
“We’re all aware of the growing pressures on health and social care. But let us not forget carers, and their importance in helping look after people. If you’re looking after someone and would like to know more, let us know. Please contact us on the Devon Carers helpline, 03456 434 435, open Monday to Friday 8-6 and Saturdays 9-1.”
Posted in: DCC Homepage