Challenge / Problem
Carers are a fundamental focus within North Wales following the implementation of the Regional Carers Strategy and with an aging population the number of carers in North Wales is likely to increase. As a region we are therefore committed to working to deliver support for carers in our communities in new and innovative ways, and to ensure that the needs of carers are considered at every stage of their health and social care journey.
Unpaid carers supporting friends and relatives are a hugely important part of the health and social care system, and all six local authorities, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and third/voluntary sector Providers across North Wales want to ensure they are valued and recognised for their contribution. Carers play a pivotal role in supporting those they care for to achieve their outcomes and enabling them to remain living in their own home.
National data indicates that the presence of a carer can greatly reduce admissions to hospital and long term residential or nursing care. Supporting carers to live their life the way they want and maintain their caring role is therefore central to achieving this. It also fulfils our duty under the national outcomes framework to promote the well-being of carers who need support in Wales, ensuring carers are supported to secure their rights and entitlements and to maintain their physical and mental health and emotional well-being.
The importance of supporting carers is also aligned with the Social Services and Well Being (Wales) Act 2014 which legislates for enhanced rights for carers of all ages and simplifies and consolidates the law, giving them for the first time equivalent rights to the person they care for. The Act also gives carers the right to choose whether and to what extent they are or remain carers.
North Wales Investors in Carers service has been launched, replicating Hywel Dda’s successful scheme to ensure the needs of carers are taken into account across Primary and Secondary Care. The scheme provides a key link between each setting and county based carers support services. One key aspect is encouraging carers to identify themselves to GP practices.
This is a unique outreach service within GP practices and hospital settings across North Wales through the provision of GP and Hospital Carer Facilitators commissioned to local carers support service providers who will support carers, sharing the carer’s voice and advocate change whilst also supporting Primary and Secondary Care professionals to enhance their awareness and knowledge of unpaid carers and the services available across the region.
GP Carer Facilitators will support GP practices and community pharmacies by keeping them updated on legislation, training and education to enable them to raise awareness of carers within the surgeries and pharmacy settings. The facilitator will also support GP practices to put in place systems for identifying carers at the earliest possible stage and identify and work with agencies that can help the surgeries to support carers. The GP Carer Facilitator will support carers to access flexible appointments that acknowledge their caring role, and will provide low-level advocacy for the carer if required.
Hospital Carer Facilitators will assist unpaid carers by providing information and support and facilitating the discharge process in a way that enables the carer to better cope with their caring role. The facilitator will work closely with the hospitals multi-disciplinary teams and engage with other agencies and local authorities; providing accessible information and support service to carers of patients and carers who are patients at the three District General Hospitals and community hospitals, with the aim of improving the carer experience and enabling carers to better cope with their caring role.
Both the GP and Hospital Carer Facilitators will support Primary and Secondary Care settings across North Wales to achieve the Investors in Carers accredited scheme. The scheme has been designed to encourage settings to focus on, and improve, their carer awareness and the help and support they give to carers, whilst promoting best practice.
Our commissioned Providers are currently working with GP practices in each area, identifying those who have already reached bronze level, whilst working with other surgeries in supporting them to reach this minimum accredited level. Once practices are recognised as progressing through the scheme, the standards will be reviewed against their achievements and considered by a panel which will include unpaid carers before confirming whether the setting has been successful and awarding the next accreditation.
For further information, or if your organisation would like to participate in this scheme, please contact:
Kimberley Mason, Regional Project Manager