Car­ers in cri­sis strug­gle to find help

The Wokingham Paper - - HEALTH - with Ni­cola Strud­ley Ni­cola Strud­ley, works two days a week as the man­ager for Health­watch Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough. Opin­ions ex­pressed in this blog are her own

CON­VER­SA­TIONS Health­watch has had with car­ers over the past years paints a stark pic­ture of what it is like try­ing to find and ac­cess­ing help when tak­ing on car­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for rel­a­tives, friends and neigh­bours.

Many of those who shared their sto­ries said they felt they only found out about the help on of­fer ‘by chance’ and only re­ally started look­ing at their op­tions when they had al­ready started strug­gling.

We know the num­ber of car­ers is in­creas­ing and they are do­ing more than ever be­fore.

Ac­cord­ing to Car­ers UK un­paid car­ers cur­rently con­trib­ute £132 bil­lion pounds worth of care sup­port to fam­ily and friends. This is more than seven times what the £17 bil­lion coun­cils spend an­nu­ally. Car­ers Trust es­ti­mate it would take 4 mil­lion ex­tra full-time paid so­cial care staff to cover the work of un­paid fam­ily car­ers. En­sur­ing car­ers get the sup­port they need is there­fore vi­tal to the sus­tain­abil­ity of the care sec­tor as a whole

Un­der the Care Act 2014, coun­cils were given a key role in as­sess­ing the sup­port needs of those pro­vid­ing un­paid care. Yet it is clear pub­lic aware­ness of this as­sess­ment process and the sup­port made avail­able is too low.

New anal­y­sis of wait­ing time data con­ducted by Health­watch Eng­land shows that on av­er­age peo­ple wait two months be­tween con­tact­ing the lo­cal author­ity and ac­tu­ally be­ing able to ac­cess ser­vices. While this is not an ex­ces­sive amount of time in its own right, for those seek­ing an as­sess­ment when al­ready ap­proach­ing a point of cri­sis these waits are cre­at­ing in­cred­i­ble stress.

Often the re­sult is that the per­son be­ing cared for suf­fers, some­times end­ing up in hos­pi­tal or a res­i­den­tial care home. This can limit their in­de­pen­dence, af­fect their qual­ity of life and ul­ti­mately cost the NHS and so­cial care sec­tor more money.

Car­ers them­selves are also af­fected, hav­ing to give up work be­cause they can’t cope or be­com­ing ill them­selves. This can lead to longterm prob­lems which mean peo­ple never re­turn to work. The emo­tional toll of be­ing a carer, in par­tic­u­lar the feel­ings of ‘guilt’ around not be­ing able to cope, can also leave last­ing scars.

Health­watch asked Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil how many young car­ers they knew about – the re­sponse was 82 – prac­ti­cally the same num­ber as three years ago. More con­sis­tent and bet­ter data is ur­gently needed if the Coun­cil is go­ing to reach out to car­ers ear­lier and make a suc­cess­ful case for the nec­es­sary re­sources to meet lo­cal de­mand.

Jim Stock­ley, Health­watch Chair, said: “At the mo­ment we have a sys­tem that waits for peo­ple to ask for help, which usu­ally comes when they are on the brink of a cri­sis. To sup­port car­ers ef­fec­tively ser­vices need to be much more on the front foot.”

Let Health­watch know your views. Get in touch:

Phone: 0118 418 1 418

Web­site: www.health­watch­wok­ing­ham.co.uk

App: Speak Up Wok­ing­ham (Free to down­load from Ap­ple or Google Play)

E-Mail: en­quiries@health­watch­wok­ing­ham.co.uk Face­book: @health­watch­wok­ing­ham

Twit­ter: @HWWok­ing­ham

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