This week (12-18th June 2017) is Carers Week.
Carers week is a national awareness week that celebrates and recognises the vital contribution made by people across the UK who currently provide unpaid care.
A Carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid help and support to a relative, friend or neighbour who cannot manage to live independently without the Carer’s help due to frailty, illness, disability or addiction (Scottish Government 2016).
The focus this year is on building communities which support Carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.
3 in 4 carers don’t feel their caring role is understood or valued buy their community. (http://www.carersweek.org/)
In Scotland, there are at least 759,000 Carers aged 16 or over and 29,000 young carers. The value of care provided by Carers in Scotland is £10,347,400,000 a year. Unpaid Carers are the largest group of carers in Scotland, providing more care than the NHS and council combined. Carers should be seen as a vital and valued part of our health and social care system. Three out of 5 of us will become Carers at some stage in our lives and I in 10 of us is already fulfilling some sort of caring role.
In Dumfries and Galloway, unpaid Carers provide over half of all care required, approximately 410,000 hours per week. There are 14,995 Carers in D&G (2011 census) although the figures are likely to be significantly higher as many people do not identify themselves as a Carer. Latest figures reveal that Carers in D&G make up 10% of the population and of this group, 29% provide more than 50 hours of support a week.
NHS Dumfries & Galloway recognise the important role that Carers play in our community and are determined to ensure that staff who have an unpaid caring role are supported to manage their own caring responsibilities with confidence and good health, whilst remaining in work.
One in five Carers give up work to care (https://carers.org/key-facts-about-carers-and-people-they-care). I gave up my employment when my son was 4. I returned to work after a long break. I personally know how much of a struggle it can be to juggle work and caring responsibilities and the effect this can have on your own health and well-being. I also understand the impact that giving up work can have on your personal finances and self- esteem.
Most of you will know that NHS Dumfries & Galloway were successful in achieving the Carer Positive engaged award in 2016. Carer Positive provides a framework around which employers can develop and implement positive working environments which support staff who are unpaid Carers. NHS Dumfries is moving forward with our Carer Positive journey to improve and progress to established level. We are working in partnership with D&G Council and the Third Sector to embed a culture of support for Carers across the health and social care partnership.
During Carers Week, there has been lots of activities to support Carers including those in the workplace.
Arrangements have been made to promote the Special Leave Policy via workforce briefings and intranet flash ads so look out for these.
Carers Leave for NHS D&G is detailed in the Special Leave Policy which can be accessed from the BEACON intranet pages. If you do not have access speak with your manager in the first instance or contact a member of the Workforce Directorate team.
The new Carers information ‘z’ card is being promoted soon so look out for these 😊
Carer online training modules are available to all staff on learnProNHS (under the CPD tab) and through the Open University Open Learn platform. It includes NES EPiC levels 1-3. NES in partnership with the Open University in Scotland have developed Caring Counts in the Workplace. This is an online course for managers and policy makers. The course sits on the OU’s free Open learn platform, with a link from the EPiC e-learning site.
I am one of the Carer stories in this web based learning and it really shows how far I have come when I look back on the last 4 years. From that pilot with the Open University, I went back to UWS then I got a role on the board as a Non- Executive Director where I am also proud to be the Carers champion.
I know that it is exhausting sometimes having caring responsibilities and working and it has certainly helped me to have support to continue in my role.
The Hospital Carers project offers support and advice. It is based in the centre opposite the lifts in the main entrance lobby at DGRI where you can also find their Carer’s Week information display. You can contact Lindsay sim or Jennifer Cranmer on 01387 241384.
Dumfries and Galloway Carers centre provides information, advice and support to anyone who cares for a relative or friend. They can be contacted on 01387 248600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . The centre has been an invaluable lifeline to me for the last 15 years.
The current Dumfries and Galloway Carers Strategy expires in 2017.Following consultation with Carers, Carers organisations and partners, a draft strategy has been developed for 2017-2021.The consultation closes on 30th June 2017. Here is the link:
For more information or assistance to complete the survey, please email Carers@dumgal.gov.uk or phone 01387-246941. Hard copies are available on request.
If you are a staff member who is a Carer and would like to be involved in Carer Positive, please feel free to get in touch. Please contact Philip Myers, Health and Wellbeing Specialist (email@example.com) or Larel Currie, Commissioning Officer, Joint Strategic Planning and commissioning (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lesley Bryce is a Non Executive member of NHS Dumfries and Galloway Health Board