The newly launched Sheffield’s Adult Carers action plan will make sure that people in a caring role continue to get the support they need so that they can care for others.
The action plan was conceptualised by carers themselves at an event they held and will support their 60,000 unpaid adult peers across Sheffield.
Sheffield City Council works not only with the individual themselves but also a range of related organisations including Sheffield Carers Centre, Sheffield Young Carers, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Health and Social Care Trust and Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group to coordinate the help and support given to the city’s carers.
Chris, who cares for his adult daughter who has autism and cerebral palsy explained that it was essential that the process was a genuine collaboration between services and individual carers and that the plan needed to be “open, honest and transparent to make lasting change.”
Pauline Kimantas, Chief Executive of Sheffield Carers Centre said “The passion in the room at the event was fantastic and it can be used to move things forward. There’s still so much to do and everybody recognises that. We’ll do our best to ensure people work in partnership.”
An important part of the plan is to make sure that carers have “a life of their own” says Emma Dickinson, the Council’s Commissioning Manager for Carers. Increasing opportunities for these people to look after their own health, have regular and sufficient breaks and to access education and work are important aspects of the Council’s plans.
“Seventy per cent of them are of working age. The plan places an emphasis on helping them to continue to work – or return to work,” she added.
Carers raised concerns about how well institutions work together and what could be done to increase communication and ensure that those they care for, and they themselves, are listened to.
There was lots of agreement that many people doing caring roles don’t see themselves as carers, so the action plan must involve ways to reach those people. Many suggestions came from carers about the ways that GPs and others could support carers to access the help that is out there for them.
The six principles that underpin the new action plan are:
- Access at the right time, the right type of information and advice for them, their family and the person they care for.
- Understanding their rights and having access to an assessment.
- Having a voice for themselves and the person they care for.
- Having regular and sufficient breaks.
- Continuing to learn and develop, train or work (if they wish to).
- Looking after their own health.
Councillor Chris Peace, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council said: “The support that professionals provide to carers to help them find the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships is essential. I’m pleased that we have an action plan that we can all work to and I look forward to seeing the progress a plan like this can make.
“Being a carer is an extremely difficult job, which often affects their own mental and physical health. We want to make sure that their important role is supported so that they can continue to support others.”
The Carers Action Plan will be reviewed every six months. The next meeting will be on 1st November, where carers and partners will discuss progress.