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Commissioning: how this call for evidence can shape the future of carer support

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Carers strategy

In this latest blog inspired by our Carers Strategy call for evidence, Strategic Joint Commissioner Karen Timperley recalls joining Camden Council some years ago as carers services lead. Arriving from the voluntary sector on a three year contract, she had a vague notion this would be ‘long enough’ to put her plans for carers into action.

At the time it felt like a huge commitment but, needless to say, I am still the carers lead in Camden and my ambitious plan clearly needed longer to play out!

Karen Timperley: 'As commissioners, we regularly think about how we can shape future services and how best to utilise resources to support carers.'
Karen Timperley: 'As commissioners, we regularly think about how we can shape future services and how best to utilise resources to support carers.'

No one can deny there have been many improvements in carer support over the years. I have been working with carers for more than 15 years and know that campaigning and hard work has led to successive pieces of legislation and national strategies pushing the carer agenda to the forefront.

Carers are widely recognised and supported to an extent we only imagined - but rarely thought -would be achieved a few years ago. when we were all using our creative talents to secure funding from health and social care or trying our best to ensure carer assessments really were embedded in practice.

Whilst I recognise the progress made there is still much to do to make sure carers are supported in what can be a life changing role. I was reminded of this recently when I met with a colleague, whom I’ve known for a few years, but had reached crisis point in their caring role before asking for advice.

I talk to - or talk about - carers most days, so it is easy to forget that they often choose not to disclose information about their caring role to colleagues and managers. Carers worry they will be seen as unreliable or someone who cannot be depended on.

It made me realise that, despite the increased awareness, many carers and young carers only share the information they need and still worry they may be seen in a negative light. It often takes a crisis to force someone to talk about the struggles they face every day. Consequently, we continue to hear the same messages; the difficulty of juggling work or family life with caring responsibilities, feelings of isolation and exhaustion, and of young and young adult carers who miss out on opportunities in education and employment.

As commissioners, we regularly think about how we can shape future services and how best to utilise resources to support carers and the people they care for. We also consider ways to build resilience and ensure our communities are carer friendly.

With the recently call for evidence launched to support a renewed national carers strategy, we have an opportunity to share good practice, so not surprisingly I have been thinking what I can offer from Camden.

Camden Carers Service is one example of local efforts to provide or facilitate joined up carer support
Camden Carers Service is one example of local efforts to provide or facilitate joined up carer support

I know the local carers centre has really good examples of working with people with diagnosed dementia and their carers. ‘Reminiscence’ and ‘remembering together’ workshops have helped people rediscover their relationships and form new ones. There are numerous examples of how carer health and wellbeing has improved through joint working across health, social care, public health and the voluntary sector. I think we are all proud in Camden of our partnership working and our attempts to break down barriers to joint working wherever we can.

What I would personally like to hear about from the call for evidence are examples of how carers have been supported through integrated commissioning or co-commissioning; how technology has been used to support carers, young carers and the people they care for to lead more independent and healthy lives. Additionally, I’d like to know how remote technology is helping carers at a distance keep in touch and connect to the person they care for.

There are fantastic innovative examples of how carers and young carers are identified, supported to care or stay in work or college. I know from the frequent e-mails I receive from fellow commissioners and carer leads that we are all looking for practical solutions to improve how carers are supported.

The call for evidence is a chance to share ideas no matter whether they involve whole system change or small scale, practical services. I’ve been working with carers for a long time but I’m still optimistic that we can continue to make progress, although if I’m honest, I’m hoping it won’t take another 15 years for me to feel as though I’ve finally reached my goal.

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  1. Comment by Patricia Dexter posted on

    I was a carer for most of my adult life as family members became ill and died one after the other. The last relative, an elderly aunt with dementia was the most challenging but I am fortunate in having loved each person I cared for, which helps, and Nottinghamshire Social Services were very supportive. My friend's husband has been diagnosed with dementia and he is deteriorating quickly. His Consultant has told her not to tell him about his condition so she is unable to access day care, etc. She is desperate for respite as this hitherto placid man is now volatile in temperament and won't be parted from her at all. She doesn't want to go to a club and sit with other carers, she wants a short burst of freedom to do whatever she wants. She wants a buddy to take him walking, etc. She loves him dearly but is crying out for help which doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Please help her and people like her.

  2. Comment by Jacqui Biddiscombe posted on

    I care for my 95 year old dad myself, I think care that go round doing this job are Not allowed enough time for each person and some canned be trusted !!

  3. Comment by Pearl Baker posted on

    I feel for this lady , unfortunately she is not alone, there are many Carers without any help, no respite, often ending up with poor health themselves. I have no idea how she can be helped, LA are absolutely 'broke' however the LA have a responsibility to access her need, and provide her with a Personal Budget that she could spend on a holiday, at the same time access her husbands Health and Social Care needs, which could provide sufficient funding to pay for the 'buddy' idea she would like for her husband. I wish her well.

    • Replies to Pearl Baker>

      Comment by Marie posted on

      I was carer for my husband until he passed away last year. I loved him dearly (still do!) and fortunately he didn't display challenging behaviour. Even so, it was the most stressful and exhausting period of my life, both physically and mentally, and the help I received personally as a carer was zero. I asked repeatedly for a carer's assessment but didn't ever get one. I felt completely isolated and often, as well as practical help, it is essential to have someone to talk to and to feel there is some emotional support and understanding.

  4. Comment by Dan Debz posted on

    What about when the Council removes one's LD/Autism son who lived with us for many years without any Neglect or Abuse and never let him see his family again nor return home and LIE and say it is him who is making this decision whilst, he CANNOT make such decision?
    It was all masterminded by a dishonest relative who gets contact and then robbed him of his money and abused staff while the contact still continues.
    The Family Court System is secretive and inhumane. He has become Obese, uncontrollable and a thief.
    What happened to the Consultation 'No Voice unheard and No Rights Ignored'?

  5. Comment by karen c posted on

    its so true - need is assessed but nobody has a clue how to meet it. So often the assessment is done the box ticked- the social worker says with relief we have a carers centre. But to be honest it cant meet the needs of everyone. I found that it was good in parts but mostly a day centre for carers. Respite is a nursing home- no thanks its not appropriate for everyone especially if your loved one doesn't have dementia. But one size is meant to fit all. A review is taking place but I couldn't go to the presentations. I suspect nothing very innovative like respite in your own home or care managers managing direct payments or even personal budgets . I caused ructions because I mentioned these when my husband was discharged from hospital.

  6. Comment by Anita Atkinson posted on

    I fully understand the issues around carers especially if said a partner as my husband was a Carer for I and was in Full-Time employment as a Vehicle Technician / MOT Tester and East Sussex County Council weren't helpful when the Care Agencies they placed I with either didn't turn up or able to carry out the care of I. My husband's Employer weren't helpful either nor understanding of the fact he was a Carer for his wife and that after a day's work he would come home and then start caring for I that he couldn't switch off like others etc. Hence caused much stress between us that resulted in our marriage breaking down and now living separate from one another of which after a horrid year or too we now enjoy quality time together.