Since joining Carers Trust in July, in conversation with Network Partners I’ve been struck by how fundamental the identification of unpaid carers is in terms of tackling some of the wider issues we know that carers face.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working with 16 Network Partners as part of the Raising the Voice of Carers project planning a campaign to get more carers identified and given the support they need at the time they need it.
What I’ve heard from Network Partners is that if we can better identify carers, then we can go some way to resolving some of the other challenges carers face – as well as relieving some of the pressures on the NHS and social care.
Launch of the Carers Toolkit campaign
That’s why we launched the Carers Toolkit campaign. We want more Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to work with local Network Partners to use the NHS England Carers Toolkit and Template Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to better identify and support carers.
In discussion with Network Partners who are part of the Raising the Voice of Carers project, I was surprised how many of their local CCGs were not using the Toolkit including a MoU. The Toolkit has the potential to be a really useful way of identifying and supporting carers and was sent out in May 2016 by NHS England, and yet many CCGs were not using the resource.
This means that carers face a postcode lottery when it comes to identification and being supported. That isn’t fair and this campaign wants to stop this lottery.
Developing services and listening to the voice of carers
When developing services to help carers, it’s vital that commissioners understand two really important things:
- that carers’ voices need to be at the heart of the services designed for carers
- the immense local knowledge that Network Partners have and how to harness this when developing services.
Carers, as people with lived experience, I believe are uniquely placed to shape their local services. It’s only by working with carers and Network Partners that local areas will be able to successfully provide services based on carer needs.
The Raising the Voice of Carers project is about giving carers the tools and confidence to campaign on issues that matter to them. Carers Trust and Network Partners were keen to see carers take action on their own behalf and let local decision makers know about what their life as a carer is like.
That is why Carers Trust provided template letters for carers via Network Partners so they could get in touch with their local CCG Chair to tell them about their experience of being a carer and why it’s so important to be identified and supported.
We also provided template letters for Network Partners to send to their CCG Chair offering support in adopting and adapting the Template MoU. We wanted as many carers as possible to have co-signed the letters from carers services.
Carers Trust and Network Partners were also keen to get members of the public involved in the campaign. Carers Trust set up an online action for members of the public and carers who don’t have a Network Partner near them to get in touch with their local CCG telling them about the Toolkit and why they should use it.
Carer identification is good for everyone
The more people that CCGs hear from the more likely they are to take action. Identifying and supporting carers is good for the carer, good for the person with care needs, and good for the wider health and social care system. It is part of the solution to the pressures the wider health and social care systems are under.
I hope that CCGs across the country listen to carers, Network Partners and members of the public they hear from to adopt and adapt the NHS England Toolkit to better identify and support carers.
If you’d like to know more about the campaign – please do get in touch by emailing email@example.com and let me know if you hear from your CCG.
Blog by Ramzi Suleiman, Policy and Campaigns Officer, Carers Trust
This blog was created by the Assistant Headteacher of Bartholomew School in Oxfordshire.
The Young Carers in School (YCiS) programme has had a big impact on Bartholomew students who are young carers. The average attendance for our young carers (YC) during 2015-16 was 94.2%, an increase on each of the previous two years. YC attainment is also impressive, with YC students achieving 87.5% A*-C including English and maths at GCSE last year.
But of course, the YCiS programme is not just about supporting academic progress. We have noticed a significant improvement in students’ emotional well-being, confidence and self-esteem. They have access to funding to support extracurricular activities, as well as opportunities to try new activities. Our YCs also tell us how much they value having the space and time to talk to someone, and to meet other young carers from across the UK. Parents also feel listened to and supported. But, perhaps most importantly, our students feel proud that they are a young carer.
From a teacher’s perspective, it is really important to understand what is going on with each of our young carers, including any and all factors which may affect their progress. We are then best placed to put in place the most appropriate support for their individual needs, be it adjusting homework requirements, offering additional support to help them catch up if they have missed time out of school, ensuring they get the same opportunities as their peers both inside and outside the classroom, and signposting to other supports and opportunities – such as days out, YC youth club or CHICKs respite.
We see so many success stories among our young carer students, and one that is typical is the young carer who was struggling emotionally both at home and in school. He has been a carer for many years, but it was only after he had received support in school and had started to attend the local YC youth club that he had the confidence to leave his mum and attend a respite residential break in the summer where he was able to experience activities such as horse riding for the first time. Mum also feels supported and listened to, especially as we are able to assist in looking at appropriate support avenues and referrals. This young man’s attendance has also improved since he became involved in the YCiS programme.
Another one of our students was identified 5 years ago as a young carer. Initially supported regularly 1:1 and via Spurgeons, she has now been able to access the children’s support fund to help with funding a new laptop to help with her studies. She has grown hugely in confidence and now feels able to support other younger students who are young carers. Her excellent GCSE results were also an indication of the positive impact of the YCiS programme.
Bartholomew School have also been supported by Oxfordshire County Council through the Oxfordshire Young Carer School Standards.
I’m three months into the new job and this is my first Carer Week. It’s really impressive to see how much activity is taking place across the UK. Local carers services have been brewing up a whole range of events in local libraries, town halls, shopping centres, social media and much more besides. Carers Trust have been on TV and radio, raising awareness of carers and the work of our local carers services.
On Tuesday, Carers Trust, with carers and other charities, chatted to lots of MPs at a Westminster parliamentary event. Also in Westminster, Parliament is having its first full day carers debate for several years this Thursday.
It’s important we continue to raise awareness because we know that many carers go unsupported. Carers Trust Network Partners see about half million of the UKs carers. Which leaves nearly 5m who don’t access these valuable services. This might well be that many carers decide these services are not for them. Much more likely is that they are simply not aware that they exist. Our ambition is to see our Network Partners reach many more of these carers, to let them know about the support that’s available.
I sat in on a drop in session in my local carers centre last week.
Mona (not her real name) is a single mother of 3 children, one of whom has been severely disabled all her life. Having reached the age of 18 her disabled daughter is now entitled to employment support allowance. ESA for short. The ESA form is a formidable 52-page booklet, seeking all sorts of information about the claimant. Given that Mona and her daughter have been in receipt of statutory services for the last 18 years, it’s almost certain that most of the information they’re asking for is known to statutory authorities already. Sitting in others systems probably. Mona’s English was good and she said she could probably fill out the report herself, were it not for the fact that she’s completely exhausted. The form’s already a month overdue so they’ve lost out on some benefits already. The staff in the centre were incredibly helpful. They phoned the ESA folk straight away to check on the deadline and are going to sit down with Mona to help her complete the form and send it off. They’re also going to try to get Mona a break. Possibly with a grant from Carers Trust. I hope she’s successful. As she was leaving I told Mona about the weekly carers film club in the Carers Centre, which got her all excited. Let’s hope she checks that out too.
Despite all of the help that’s on offer to carers, from Carers Trust Network Partners and many others, Monas case, and the evidence in this year’s State of Caring report, reminds us that life remains really tough for many of the UK’s carers.
So in this week of celebrating all that carers do, let’s not forget the inconvenient truth, that many UK carers are not having a good time.
There was no sign that Mona had received her Care Act Assessment under the new legislation. Carers Trust has been looking into how the new Care Act is working for Carers one year on. Look out for the report in early July. We hope it will give government, both national and local, important evidence about what needs improving, and food for thought as the new national carers strategy is being developed.
In the meantime, if you’re supporting carers or are a carer yourself, see if you can take some time to take part in Carers Week this week. There’s a lot of fun stuff happening all over the UK, quite possibly near you or if not on-line.
Remember Carers Trust is here to help. You can find your local carers service by calling 08448004361 or on http://www.Carers.org
Joe Gannon is Director of Policy and Research at Carers Trust.
Before George Osborne unveils his Spending Review Carers Trust has one simple question to put to the Chancellor: will you help ensure unpaid carers get the support they need?
We now have legislation in place that would, if properly funded, make a genuine difference to the lives of carers across England. None of these improvements will become a reality without investment, however. It’s like giving a child a new toy for Christmas but without the batteries that will make it work. Continue reading
For many unpaid carers, making regular trips to the local hospital is just a routine part of their week – like getting in the shopping or paying the bills. It’s what they have to do to make sure the person they care for is getting the treatment and support they need.
We don’t think anyone who provides such essential care should have to pay for doing so.
Yet, that’s the reality for millions of carers up and down the country who face having to pay to park every time they take their friend or family member to hospital. It’s leaving some carers having to fork out up to £500 a week. When you’re already feeling the emotional stress of having to make regular trips to hospital, worrying about whether you’re going to be to afford to park is the last thing you need. Continue reading
From time to time, every carer needs support to help them look after the person they are caring for.
Sometimes that will mean getting equipment installed in their home so that they can meet the needs of the person they support. Other times it might mean calling in home help so that they can keep up with their housework.
The importance of these services cannot be overstated. They mean that carers can provide the best support possible to their friend or family member whilst maintaining their own health. Continue reading
Search for images of ‘unpaid carer’ on any online search engine and you are met largely with photos of female carers — daughters caring for elderly parents, wives and partners caring for disabled spouses and mothers supporting their children. This is hardly surprising, caring is often seen as a ‘female’ issue.
It is a common misconception that women are the main providers of care and that men tend only to take on a peripheral caring role. But evidence shows otherwise. Men very often take on caring roles and, in fact, according to the 2011 Census over 40% of carers are male. Many of these are dads who are solely responsible for providing care for their child or children. Commonly these fathers also care for another family member or friend. Continue reading
This week, and with a great deal of pomp and ceremony, the Queen delivered her speech to parliament. This is a really important moment in the political calendar. It’s when we get to hear what the government plans to do for the coming year. For Carers Trust, our instant thoughts on hearing the speech are: “How will these plans affect carers?” and “What should we do about it?” Continue reading
This week is Dementia Awareness week and carers of people with dementia, will I hope feature prominently. It is often said that when a diagnosis of dementia is given, it is given to the whole family. Dementia is a complex, unpredictable progressive condition, which affects 850,000 people in the UK. One third of people with dementia are cared for in their own homes by a family member or friend. If, as the Prime Minsters challenge on dementia intends, Britain it to be a leading county in the field of dementia, if we cannot afford to leave out this extremely important group of people. Continue reading
Last week young carers handed in over 1800 Fair Start signatures to the Department for Education asking the government to include young carers in the criteria for Pupil Premium. Thank you for adding your support – it showed the government just how much you care about young carers future. Continue reading