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Building the voice of carers and the public into this strategy

The Carers’ Strategy consultation asked for views on the draft Carers’ Strategy and ran from May to August 2016 alongside consultations relating to the Dementia and Falls Strategies. A questionnaire was available online and in a paper version and people were invited to comment on any of the strategies that were of relevance and interest to them. There was also a separate questionnaire for young carers and young adult carers. Staff from the council and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group also had many conversations with carers at specific events, or at regular meetings or groups attended by carers.

The key findings from the 97 responses to the consultation survey were:

  • When asked what is currently working well for carers, over half of the comments made referred to the support and activities run by the voluntary and community sector
  • When asked what is not currently working well for carers, half of the comments made referred to carers needing more support and information
  • The priority ‘supporting carers to stay healthy’ received the greatest strongly agree score (86%). The priority referring to ‘education and employment’ received the lowest strongly agree score (56%)
  • The majority of respondents felt all actions set out in the consultation document were important.
  • When asked what would make a real difference in supporting them in their caring role, the most frequent response was more support (17 comments)
  • When asked how we can best identify carers to ensure their needs are assessed as early as possible, the most frequent response was via GPs (22 comments)

An analysis of the comments made in the survey and through the engagement events we held with carers highlighted:

  • Lack of joined up thinking across health and social care – sometimes things work well but this is too hit and miss currently. Once someone is diagnosed health staff should automatically register a carer, enabling them to have access to information and support
  • Carers and service users can wait a long time for assessments and services from the council
  • Issues with the fit and quality of support at home to service users
  • Support for carers is needed when the carer stops caring, either as a result of bereavement, or a reduction in caring responsibilities when someone moves into residential or nursing care
  • A sense that there is a lack of support when carers really need it
  • A lack of recognition for carers
  • Carers chase information and sources of support when they are already feeling exhausted – they would like one person to be able to speak to
  • A range of views was expressed on the value of the carers’ assessment and the support offered as a result of this
  • A call for more help and training for the carer on the skills and knowledge required in being a carer
  • The importance of having regular breaks, and the current inadequacy of short breaks and emergency support for carers, particularly for short breaks in residential care
  • Provision of information can be good, but needs to be good across health and social care; more comprehensive information to be available
  • Young carers and young adult carers: support and understanding in school is vital. Young carers value the 13 up club and it needs continued support. Raising awareness and breaking down stigma is very important, and work with employers so that home life and work can dovetail more. Young carers need to continue to have support to meet other young carers and escape from their caring responsibilities
  • Parent carers: need clarity on assessments for parent carers, training in their caring role and greater recognition and more positive outcomes for parent carers. They would support further engagement with parent carers to understand their needs and issues

Many of the issues and views above were reflected in responses to the Carers’ Surveys in 2014 – 2015. Isolation of carers was a growing issue in the latest survey, with an increasing number of carers reporting they didn’t have as much social contact as they would like. Further information on benefits was also highlighted as a need by carers.

An equalities impact assessment (EIA) was produced as part of the strategy consultation, and this has been updated as a result of the responses we heard. This can be seen at appendix four. Further work is needed to understand the needs of young carers and young adult carers; and carers aged 25-44 who were all under-represented in the consultation.