By Beverley Tarka, president, ADASS
When ADASS and carers’ organisations launched the Carers Challenge in October, our goal was to unearth the gold standard work social care teams and voluntary organisations are doing to support unpaid carers.
The response has been great, with lots of stories about how organisations are working with carers to co-produce services and place them at the heart of decision making.
One example was from the London Borough of Waltham Forest. There, the council has established a residents’ panel for unpaid carers who are looking after someone with dementia, so they can meet with social care team managers and other senior staff, face to face, once a month.
Giving carers the chance to shape services
“Unpaid carers told us that their voices weren’t being heard and they felt opportunities were being missed to improve services here in Waltham Forest,” said Matthew Mint, the council’s dementia and service development manager.
“The panel gives them the chance to offer feedback about the services they are using every day and iron out issues they are personally experiencing.
“In doing this, we as managers are then able to take this feedback and make the changes that are needed to the way we work, which benefits all unpaid carers in our borough.”
Matthew said this had influenced service delivery in the borough; for example, the council was reviewing dementia training for adult social care as a result of concerns raised by carers at these meetings.
Liz, a carer to her husband, who has dementia and Parkinson’s, said she found the panel meetings useful in understanding how processes such as hospital discharge and safeguarding worked.
“It allowed me to feel comfortable airing my concerns,” she added. “I’m really pleased that telling my story about the everyday struggles I face can help managers make the changes we all want to see. By speaking up, together we make someone else’s life a little easier in the future.”
A carers’ good practice ‘storehouse’
Over the next few months, ADASS, alongside people with lived experience, will be finding out more about projects like this one and gathering them together to create the Carers Challenge ‘storehouse of great ideas’.
We hope this will be an inspirational tool for people working with unpaid carers, where they can find out more about different approaches other organisations have taken and how they can transfer this learning to their own practice.
So, watch this space for more information about the launch of the storehouse in early spring.