Carers Week, 10-16 June 2019
Comment from Peter Shelton on Carers Week
My name is Peter Shelton and I am the Social Work Practice Standards and Complex Case Lead for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Adult Social Care. A long title but what does it mean? Basically I work to drive up standards within social work and improve outcomes for our service users and their carers.
Along with colleagues from iMPOWER I have run a number of workshops in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough aimed at raising the profile of carers, and introducing new ways of working to support carers. The purpose of the workshops were to support staff with the knowledge and ability to have meaningful and purposeful conversations with carers and direct them towards appropriate support to help them manage their health and wellbeing and maintain their caring role.
I believe that Carers Week is very important as I believe that carers are very important to how we support the people that we work with. Carers are key to enabling the people they care for to remain in their own homes and communities, which is where most people want to be. Carers are the bedrock of support that we need to build our support services onto. Carers Week gives us a chance to celebrate the hard work and contribution that they make and also highlight the challenges that they face. Carers can often become socially isolated and face financial challenges as well as increased risk to their own health. There are approximately 6.5 million people who are caring for others in the United Kingdom, this number is expected to rise by 2037 to over 9 million. On a purely financial basis they are saving the economy over £132 Billion a year, this is equivalent to the NHS Budget.
Being a carer can be a very rewarding experience, however it can also be a very stressful one as well. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough we are improving how we support carers. Not everybody who is a carer identifies as such, people generally see themselves as a husband, wife, friend, son or daughter, partner amongst others and we need to be careful not to give people labels that they do not want and that they maintain their identity. Carers can be reluctant to ask for or accept help and can be less likely to reveal their caring status for a range of reasons including fear, dignity, or because they are worried about consequences. We need to help carers identify themselves, legitimise their needs and encourage them to accept support. Spotting the warning signs of carer breakdown early, and guiding carers to advice, information and support which might prevent crisis is crucial.
We must give everyone the same support and access to resources however they identify themselves. Through consultation with partnership boards we are improving the offer we make to carers. We have simplified the process of carer’s assessments, wanting to move away from long complex forms that are sent out for people to complete by themselves, to offering meaningful conversations that allow the person to actually say how the role feels for them personally, and what would help them to carry on in the role. We have amended our Supported Self-Assessment; which means that a person can initially complete the assessment on their own if they so wish, and then have a telephone call or if more appropriate a visit to go help them complete it and identify areas that they require more support in. This could mean sign posting to other services such as voluntary groups or agencies. We must also remember that the assessment process should not just be seen as a gateway to care and support, but should be a critical intervention in its own right.
What we hope to achieve from this work is to raise the profile of carers and to provide meaningful support to enable people to go on helping the people they care for, and so helping people to remain where they want to be. To achieve this, it is about ensuring that carers have access to information, tools and support to enable them to manage their health and wellbeing and support them to maintain their caring role.