Glasgow's Caring Community - Carers Strategy Implementation Update 2021
Last month, from 7 - 13 June 2021, we celebrated national Carers Week to highlight the importance of unpaid carers by ‘Making Caring Visible and Valued’. To mark Carers Week, Glasgow Local Carers Centres organised a calendar of events for all unpaid carers to attend, from cream teas to fancy hat garden parties.
This month, a report went to Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integration Joint Board (IJB) to update on progress in implementing Glasgow’s Carers Strategies 2019 - 22, and how unpaid carers across the city have continued to be supported throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Unpaid carers provide crucial everyday care and support to family members, friends and neighbours. The people they care for may be affected by disability, physical or mental ill-health, frailty or substance misuse. Anyone can become a carer at any time in their life, and they can be any age from young children to very elderly people. It’s estimated that in Scotland there are over 700,000 unpaid carers over the age of 16 and 29,000 unpaid carers under the age of 16. This means that over 17% of Scotland’s adult population looks after someone and is recognised as a carer.
Fred Beckett, Carers Lead for our HSCP said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a huge impact on adults and young people looking after families and friends in Glasgow. As pandemic restrictions ease and life returns to the new normal, we should all remember the immense contribution unpaid carers make every day for Glasgow residents who live with long term health conditions, poor mental health or substance misuse. To find out more about what you can do to identify, involve and support Glasgow’s caring community, please visit YSYWG or phone the Carers Information line 0141 353 6504.”
The Glasgow City Carers Partnership (GCCP) was set up in 2012 in order to support unpaid carers in our city by using an early intervention and prevention approach. The GCCP consists of carer centres, health and social care services and condition-specific organisations working together to support unpaid carers. GCCP also offers information via the Carer Information Line, Carers Booklet including the carer self-referral and a recently launched online carer self-referral.
The goal of the Carers Partnership is to identify and assist unpaid carers as early as possible in their caring journey. This approach aims to support carers to have the skills and knowledge to enable the person they care for to live well with their condition in the community.
In the last 15 months, unpaid carers in Glasgow have been going the extra mile, every day facing new challenges to be able to maintain support to their loved ones. The vital role that unpaid carers play in supporting people to remain in the community has been even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IJB report highlights that when the pandemic impacted carers services in Glasgow were well positioned to respond to its challenges. Services began working remotely and carers were initially supported by telephone. At the start of the pandemic, more unpaid carers were required to rapidly increase the support they provided. More than 700 previously identified carers were then supported with help planning for emergencies, accessing carer personalised short break support, online training and emotional support.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all people in their personal and professional lives, it also created opportunities for new innovations for the GCCP with many of their carers services, including local care centres increasing their social media presence in order to communicate key messages with the general public, often at short notice. The Carers Advice and Information Team was also established to keep in contact with all unpaid carers in Glasgow and disseminate key information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Government and Public Health COVID-19 restrictions.
One of the challenges faced by many unpaid was digital exclusion, and in response 220 mobile devices were funded and distributed thanks to carer self-directed support.
Throughout the pandemic, our HSCP’s Your Support Your Way Glasgow website was kept up to date with information for unpaid carers, and in May 2020 an online carer self-referral form was launched to facilitate faster and more streamlined referrals. As of June 2021, there have been over, 1600 online enquiries received including carer self-referrals, PPE requests, vaccine information and short break requests.
In 2020/2021, the GCCP achieved the following:
• 1,803 adult carers not known to services in the past five years accepted the offer of a Carer Support Plan
• 132 young carers not known to services in the past five years accepted the offer of a Young Carer Statement
• 69% of all new carer referrals were identified at any early stage in their caring journey
• carer self-directed support was provided to 516 carers
• 440 carers benefitted from over 10,000 hours of short breaks.
• 560 carers received a COVID-19 emergency plan in the first 12 weeks of the pandemic. All carers are routinely offered emergency plans as part of Carer Support Plan.
• Additional £80,500 funding from Scottish Government was distributed to individual carers to support unpaid carers to have a break from caring and
• The PPE Hub processed 2,295 requests from unpaid carers for PPE for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
As lockdown eases and community vaccinations increase (including carer centre staff), recovery planning is underway and focusing on the delivery of increased face-to-face support with unpaid carers, following Government and Public Health COVID-19 guidelines.
Glasgow’s current carers strategies, Carers Strategy 2019 - 22 and Young Carer Strategy 2019 - 22, require to be reviewed and updated by April 2022. This work will commence in September 2021, and a consultation and engagement plan are currently in development. The outcome of the consultation and revised carers strategies are planned to be reported to the IJB in March 2022.
For more detailed information, please read the full report to the IJB at its June 2021 meeting, Carer Strategy Implementation Update 2021 - 22.