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Executive summary

Warwickshire County Council, the three local Clinical Commissioning Groups, (South Warwickshire CCG, Warwickshire North CCG and Coventry and Rugby CCG) and our health, voluntary and independent sector partners, acknowledge the significant contribution of carers and are committed to supporting them to fulfil their caring role, whilst enabling them to have a life outside of caring, and maintaining and protecting their health and wellbeing.

The 2014 Care Act defines a carer as: “an adult who provides or intends to provide care for another adult”. In line with the Care Act definition, this strategy focuses upon supporting adult carers who are caring for another adult. Support for young carers and parent carers fall within the scope of Warwickshire County Council’s Children and Families business unit.

We have considered what is important nationally in terms of legislation and guidance as part of our strategy. We have also aligned this strategy with the vision and values set out in Warwickshire Better Care Fund Plans, known locally as Warwickshire Cares: Better Together. Within this framework, health and social care partners have agreed jointly to put strong mechanisms in place to support informal carers and work across the health and social care economy to minimise the impact of illness and disability on a carer’s life, and support cares to balance their caring roles and maintain their desired quality of life.

At the same time, money will continue to be tight, with less money available to support an increasing number of people who need support, be it because of their age, disabilities or other reasons.

Warwickshire has developed a Joint Adult Carers Strategy, covering the period 2017-2020, which is set in the context of this changed environment and will attempt to respond in a realistic yet imaginative and creative way to face the challenges ahead.

We are looking for new ways of making the best use of the money available and ways of people supporting each other in their local communities. We are looking to develop a carers support offer that is closer to communities, in order to ensure support is tailored to local needs, builds upon local assets, and is integrated within and works in partnership with the local health and social care system.

Needs assessment

A joint strategic carer’s needs assessment has been completed to provide insight into the unpaid care provision across Warwickshire and the extent and nature of local support service.

The 2011 Census indicates that Warwickshire has 59,240 people or 11% of the population are providing some form of unpaid care each week. However, an estimated 108,000 patients registered with a Warwickshire GP had some form of caring responsibility in 2013/14. This represents a significant difference when compared with the 2011 Census, with GP practices effectively identifying nearly twice as many carers in Warwickshire.

Caring can be very rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be emotionally and physically draining without recognition and with little practical and/or emotional support. Research shows that carers can often experience diminished quality of life and poorer health outcomes in terms of their physical and mental health as well as their emotional well-being.

There is a uniform pattern of deteriorating general health with rising levels of unpaid care provision. There is a clear relationship between poor health and caring that increases with the duration and intensity of the caring role.

In addition, there is national evidence to suggest that a significant number of hospital admissions are due to problems associated with the carer rather than the person admitted.

Engagement

Carers, staff and partners told us what was important to include within this strategy through a comprehensive engagement exercise carried out over a six month period. The engagement exercise elicited the following five key themes with regard to the issues carers are facing and the support that they require to enable them to balance their caring roles and maintain their desired quality of life.

  • Supporting people to identify themselves as carers, early in their caring journey.
  • Provision of information to enable carers to access available support.
  • Support services for the carer.
  • Support to be recognised and valued for their contribution and empowered and included as 'experts in care'.
  • Carers support services that are 'local and accessible'.

Vision and strategic objectives

The vision for Warwickshire’s Joint Carers Strategy 2017 – 2020 is that Warwickshire is a place where carers can balance their caring roles and maintain their desired quality of life.

We will do this by providing a carers support offer that delivers upon the following six strategic objectives.

  1. All carers in Warwickshire are assisted to identify themselves as carers at an early stage.
  2. Carers are able to make informed decisions and exercise choice and control about care and support through the provision of accessible information and advice for themselves and the person they care for.
  3. Carers will receive personalised support, both for themselves and the person they care for, enabling them to have a family and community life.
  4. Carers will be supported to remain physically and mentally well.
  5. Carers will be supported to access the right services, at the right time, in the right place.
  6. Carers will be recognised, valued and empowered as “experts” in care.

This strategy sets out how we will prioritise and target our resources and activities in order to achieve the vision set out above and drive improvements in support for carers across Warwickshire’s health and social care system.

The strategy is summarised as a three-pillared approach below and is illustrated in Figure 1 in the form of a Plan on a Page.

Pillar 1 – Raising the profile of carers with the aim of supporting early identification, early intervention and prevention

  • We raise the profile of carers, the issues they face and the support they are entitled to, via a widespread 'Think Carer' awareness raising media campaign.
  • We will inform and up skill/equip practitioners to support carer identification and timely referral into support services by co-developing with carers a 'Think Carer' education/training programme.
  • We will develop a robust carers information and advice offer working in partnership and coordinating activity with key agencies across Warwickshire.

Pillar 2 – Carers support service

We will commission a single or collaboration of providers to deliver an outcome-focused carers support offer that will:

  • support early identification of carers
  • act as a single point of entry for Warwickshire carers
  • ensure all carers receive an assessment of their needs; (that is proportionate to their presenting needs)
  • incorporate a range of support services that are central to carer needs and requirements
  • be local and accessible to carers
  • assist carers to maintain and/or improve their health and well-being
  • assist carers to continue in their caring role.

Pillar 3 – Connecting the parts

  • We will develop a system-wide approach to the identification of carers, with the commissioned carers support provider acting as a single point of entry (SPE) for all carers.
  • We will introduce a mechanism to support the proactive referral of carers into the SPE from key partners across primary health, social care and acute services.
  • Carers Support Service will link into key touch points across the health and social care system, specifically primary care and key transition points (as identified by carers).
  • The commissioned support service will operate a locality-based model with lead workers and support teams allocated to defined localities across Warwickshire (conterminous with GP clusters in South Warwickshire and Rugby, and interdisciplinary hubs in Warwickshire North).
  • Support transition of young carers into adults services where appropriate.