To consider a report providing a progress update in respect of the Carers Programme.
Consideration was given to a report providing information about a developing strategy and offer for Carers in Rotherham, including unpaid Carers and young Carers. Recent efforts to redefine pathways had necessitated a subsequent redefinition of the Carers Strategy. Carers had been included as part of the Place Plan. The report illustrated the framework to refresh the Carers Strategy based on feedback from Carers themselves, in which Carers contributed potential improvements that would help them most. Carers stated they hoped to see four key recommendations: a smoother transition from children’s to adults’ services, consistency in approach – such as dedicated case workers, strengthening information and advice that is available to Carers, and making sure that the target operating model had enough advice and support for Carers to help them avoid hitting the crisis trigger point. Incorporating this feedback from Carers as well as feedback from partners, the implementation plan was created to last through this year and from 2021-25.
Tasks for this year were divided into four quarters, and a number of these were completed, including a survey feedback process and a peer review feedback process in February. In March, resources were reallocated to meet the COVID crisis. In the months that followed, activities still continued but did not follow the timeline. Through May, June and July, unpaid Carers’ meetings were held because it was clear that information and good advice was needed. A Carers information pack was also put together for comment and review by partners before publishing among the partners’ networks. The Carers Grant programme offered £50k to support Carers, with 31 applications that have come through so far against that grant and Crossroads Carers facilitating this applications process.
It was emphasised that, while the timeline was interrupted due to redistribution of resources during COVID, the team have still made progress against the original programme. Some tasks that were still ongoing had been able to begin on time and had been able to make positive progress. The next steps were to build on the assistive technology interest people have, since people were all working in different ways now. Technology also had allowed Carers to communicate with each other and providers to get the best information in the fastest way possible. Calls for IT support and equipment had been the most prevalent requests in recent days. To meet the demand, work was currently in progress with the Digital Solutions Group in Adult Social Care.
As Council buildings remained closed for now, and eventually reopened, the implications for the Carers Centre would be considered. The important thing was understanding the developing changes and their implications. Creating a new timeline was also important now, and the new strategy was expected to be ready for introduction in quarter one of 2021. The current strategy would run until 2021. The key objectives underway were: that the Carer experience would be mapped, examining any gaps and embedding new knowledge of these gaps into the Carers programme; building on the information offer by looking at traditional and virtual communication options based on where people were so that they could have the right information to hand; looking at data provided in the JSNA; building on the relationship with unpaid Carers to contribute to the Carers group; carrying on with the grant work. A subgroup would be set up for a young Carers’ group, with CYPS and partners at Barnardo’s. It was noted that all the good work and progress made would be documented.
In discussion, elaboration was requested about how the new strategy would impact a “typical” Carer.
The impact of the Carers Strategy consolidates all the partners who have been a part of the conversation. It will impact how Carers access support, formal and informal. From a Place perspective, it ensured we could mobilise all the services and partners that were available: Health, Social Care, and even more informal ways of supports, etc. It would help some people realise that they were Carers and could have much-needed support making sure they are not hitting crisis. The hard part was measuring the outcomes that we in conjunction with partners were helping create for Carers, and that would be built up through the refreshed strategy. The vision was to have a robust Borough that looks after Carers. As for the grant, the grant had been available only about 4 weeks, so currently the teams were evaluating whether the information had been getting out to the right people, and that these people were able to access the application. Crossroads were administering the grant as a partner organisation. The Carers’ Forum had given feedback, which was being evaluated as taking this approach in these circumstances had been unprecedented. 31 people had applied, 4 of which had not met the eligibility criteria but had been redirected towards other areas of Crossroads’s work. For clarification, it was also noted that this £50k grant had originated from the Government COVID money that had been allocated to local authorities; therefore, this was “one-off” funding. The team were working to allocate these moneys as fairly as possible. This grant was not part of the revenue budget at this time.
Members also commented that it was encouraging to see that despite the five- or six-month delay, the plan was not expected to overrun its target by more than 3 months, if that. Members also expressed appreciation for the flexibility built into the plan, particularly at the later stages. Members inquired if it would be useful to develop a hypothetical case study of a Carer to test the strategy and show how their pathways would be improved under the new strategy. In response, it was agreed that mapping the experience of Carers is really valuable, as it showed how pathways could be established and improved. This mapping would help test through all the different partner groups to find out any gaps.
Members also noted that the report was very comprehensive and progress made so far was very satisfactory despite COVID, and it appeared a fully developed strategy was well on its way. Members requested clarification as to how much of the grant had been requested and granted yet, and how would officers measure success? In response, officers provided the information that the requests tend to be lower than £250. It was also clarified that these applications from a Carer were often for a piece of equipment or kind of care. The teams would be concerned if they had only had a few applications. The fact that 31 applications had been submitted was considered a good sign because a good number of applications showed that the information was getting out to people. Thanks to Cabinet, the teams had the 50k to spend on Carers and were able to listen to Carers to hear how they wanted to use that money, and for them, the greatest impact they indicated would come through individual small grants.
Members noted that dedication and imagination had been exhibited in the plans so far and that good ideas and the means to make them happen were present, but further assurances were requested that the information would be able to get to the Carers who need it. Officers provided assurances that the Council had a great Communications Director with an effective communications team. Officers emphasised the importance of using multiple avenues and a consistent voice. Thwarting Carer breakdown was emphasised as the main objective of the Carers Strategy refresh, because providing the right support results in greater stability of Carers who are providing ongoing support to their loved ones.
1. That the results of the Carers Strategy Review and the plans to support recovery of the Carers’ Centre be submitted for scrutiny with the goal of contributing to the new strategy launching in June 2021.
2. That ways of increasing digital connectivity and skills for Carers be explored, particularly to support young Carers.