Debate on increase in carers grant

We asked whether the increase in the carers grant will
make a significant difference, and what more has to be done to help

These are the responses we received:

Obviously the first comment is that even with
the increase announced by Alan Milburn there is still not enough
funding for carers but, we should give credit where it’s due. As
carers officer for Tameside MBC I have seen this funding spent in
imaginative ways.

I could give a long list of breaks provided out of this grant
from day trips to individual holidays, carers young and older have
benefited and told us how welcome the break was. It has proved
interesting that many carers wish to take the person they care for
with them on trips and holidays dispelling the myth that
traditional respite is the best answer for a break.

The main point I wish to make is this, even if the grant was
trebled or quadrupled it would still be a drop in the ocean. Part
of the government’s aim with this money was surely to allow
imaginative schemes to be developed which, if successful, could be
provided from mainstream funding. It’s time for social care
providers to take off their blinkers, listen to the needs of carers
and service users. The ‘we know best’ attitude is still too
prevalent. Some of the breaks we have provided are far cheaper than
traditional respite and far more beneficial to those receiving
services. I believe the grant has led to a change of attitude in
many areas, but all of us have a long way to go. Many carers would
value the provision of equipment i.e. a washing machine when caring
for someone with continence problems would ease their task and
thereby provide what they would consider an ongoing break.

Let’s all adopt a positive attitude towards the carers grant.
Let’s look for the solutions not the

Ray Slamon, Carers Officer, Tameside MBC

As most of the carers (from within families)
don’t ‘do it for the money’, but out of love, loyalty or
obligation, then the effectiveness of the increased grant is
dubious. I don’t believe it will inspire family members to give up
work in order to care for relatives, as there are often other
agendas at work. It could encourage those relatives who don’t work
to devote more time to the caring role, but the cynic in me
considers that the motives behind this may not be entirely pure. Of
course, this is only one perspective, and it should be highlighted
that my field of experience is primarily with older people, as
opposed to other vulnerable groups in need of care.”
Vivienne Minor

Here in Knowsley we find being part of the
carers special grant allocation a real asset to our carers.  We
have a very successful voucher scheme which provides the carer with
a sitting service so they can have a well deserved break. This
scheme has attracted many new carers to our centre and over 200+
carers find this service a  lifeline. 

We also have an educational/work pot of money that helps the
carer remain in employment or pursue a college course helping over
50 carers.
Another successful scheme is The James Holt Centre in
Kirkby. Carers go and pursue a computer course whilst the ‘cared
for’ are looked after by the care staff. On Thursday evenings they
hold a social club that one of our carers who cares for his wife
with Alzheimer’s has started up. They play bingo and hold social
evenings. Sometimes they go out for a meal or for a drink in the
local public house and the care staff look after the cared for in
the centre. 
All this would not have been possible without the carers special
grant and many carers have benefited. Although social services
provide the main care, these other schemes help as an extra when
carers wish to spend a night at the bingo, or have a meal, or go to
the cinema etc.
With the increase in the carers special grant these schemes that
provide direct service can improve and develop and more and more
carers will benefit here in Knowsley. We must, as carers centres,
have a say in how to allocate this grant so we must have a good
relationship with our social services department and make sure that
the grant benefits carers and gives them a well deserved
Helen I Rigby, Knowsley Carers Centre Manager 

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