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Surrey’s unpaid carers to be better supported to look after loved ones

Surrey’s unpaid carers will be better supported to look after their loved ones under new improved contracts which families around the county have helped to shape.

The county council and local NHS organisations are preparing to sign new contracts designed to bring a number of improvements in support for carers to help them and their loved ones lead better lives.

Funding for carers’ support is increasing on last year to £6.8million despite budget pressures and services will be reshaped and enhanced with the aim of making sure no one is left behind.

Reflecting our commitment to putting residents at the heart of everything we do, the changes have been shaped through engagement with carers on their priorities and wishes for support services.

Benefits for unpaid carers include:

-Five new hubs to be located in the heart of communities to enable carers to access support more easily – these are soon to be opened in North West Surrey, Guildford and Waverley, Surrey Downs, East Surrey, and Surrey Heath and Farnham

-A new service that will specifically support carers of people with mental health needs – currently being designed with carers

-Carers able to access up to 35 hours of breaks to recharge their batteries, which they’ll be able to use flexibly, with the potential for further support if needed. Carers who might need a greater level of support on a longer-term basis will be given a carer’s assessment to see what might help make their lives easier – and they’ll continue to be supported until that’s been done and future arrangements are agreed. This will mean that a greater number of carers will be able to take regular breaks if they need them – previously some faced a wait for this service.

-An independent “Giving Carers a Voice” service which will encourage feedback from carers to help us further refine carer-focused services and universal services, enabling us to say “you said, we did”

-A new “carer passport” which will be developed across Surrey to give carers recognition, identify key contacts in case of an emergency and enable them to gain ready access to support or services in the community

-Improved support for young carers that is tailored to their needs

Services will support early identification and offer easily accessible activities to reduce stress and isolation, taking a whole-family approach and making sure that support is tailored to specific circumstances.

Services will be delivered by trusted organisations Action for Carers Surrey, Crossroads Care Surrey, Healthwatch Surrey CIC and Surrey Independent Living Council.

The county council has worked with Surrey Heartlands and Frimley clinical commissioning groups to develop the contracts, which will run alongside one another and offer smooth pathways to any additional support needed, to ensure a rounded approach.The Surrey Carers’ Strategy 2021-2024 sets out the partners’ commitment to improving and developing services to better support unpaid carers.

Carers will be supported as the services settle into new ways of working.

Sinead Mooney, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We hugely value Surrey’s carers for the selfless support they provide to loved ones and the contribution they make to helping people stay in their own homes, which is almost always where they want to be.

“We in turn want to do as much as we can to support carers which is why we’re developing and enhancing the services available to them, having listened to their views and feedback. The emphasis will be on prevention – supporting carers at the right time and in the right way so we can nip any issues in the bud.

“The changes will help us make sure that no one is left behind but I recognise that the transition to new ways of working may raise questions for some carers – I’d like to stress that carers will continue to be supported and that support is on hand for anyone who has any queries about their own situation.”

The role of Independent Carer Lead will be expanded to enable the lived experience of carers to be heard, included and at the heart of all aspects of carer support, at all levels, within the Surrey system.

Dr Sue Tresman, Independent Carer Lead for Surrey, said: “We recognise the tremendous and vital contribution our carers in Surrey make towards maintaining the independence , health and wellbeing of those they look after. Carers generously worked with us to tell us the support services they felt would best enable them to continuing caring if they so wished and to maintain a life outside of their caring role. We are very much looking forward to seeing these improved services deliver the benefits our carers richly deserve.”

Jamie Gault, Chief Executive at Action for Carers Surrey, said: “We are pleased we’ve been awarded all four contracts we applied for. We know we are the right organisation to support Surrey’s carers.”

Terry Hawkins, CEO of Crossroads Care Surrey, said: “From April, as part of the new contract provision, Crossroads Care Surrey will be providing respite breaks for 35 hours, as well as end of life support for unpaid carers across the County.  In addition, we look forward to launching the new Carers Emergency Planning service which will offer assistance in times of emergency, along with a new ‘carers passport scheme’ that will provide access to support services and further added benefits for unpaid carers across Surrey.”

Kate Scribbins, CEO of Healthwatch Surrey, said: “Healthwatch Surrey CIC are delighted to be awarded this important contract to provide Surrey’s carers with an independent channel to share their experiences and feedback.  It’s vital that the views of a wide range of carers, and in particular those who are less well-heard,  are sought and acted upon to ensure services are meeting their needs, and we look forward to working with SCC and NHS partners on this.”

*If you care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled, please visit the Action for Carers Surrey website, call them on 0303 040 1234 or text 07723 486730, to find out about support available in Surrey.

ENDS

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