We recognise the commitment and dedication that’s needed to be someone’s carer, and have been developing ways to help provide support for carers in Conwy.
Young carers in particular are often “hidden” within our community, and we’ve led in commissioning a new regional Young Carer’s project across North Wales. We’ve also improved things for young carers as they become adults, with a new “Young Adult Carers” project, to help bridge the gap.
Regional Young Carers Project
Each of the local authorities in North Wales commissioned separate services for young carers, supported by additional funding from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB). A viability exercise was undertaken on behalf of all six North Wales Local Authorities in partnership with BCUHB to explore the benefits of a regionally commissioned service for Young Carers across North Wales. This concluded there were potential benefits, Conwy CBC, Denbighshire CC and Wrexham CC, in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) agreed that sub regional commissioning provided a positive collaboration opportunity.
The three counties and BCUHB worked together around consultation, information on current services and costs, they delivered a service specification and collateral agreement. This led to initiating a tender exercise in 2013 with Conwy as the lead. A new provider was chosen and the new service started April 2014.
What difference has it made?
The new providers initiated a consultation event during Easter activities around a name for the service, and planned for and have addressed 50% of the transferred waiting list. The commissioners are currently working with the new providers around performance using Results Based Accountancy, which will be monitored quarterly and include:
- outcomes for young carers
- quality measures including service user feedback
- outputs of the commissioned service
- improving the referral process including secure referrals
- improving the assessment process
The benefits envisaged are:
- streamlining of services for Health and Local Authorities;
- improving the consistency of services for Young Carers who move from one county but within the contract;
- streamlining of referral systems can make process more efficient for referring agencies;
- raise in standards and sharing of innovative practice;
- a large single service may have additional influence to help raise the profile of the needs of Young Carers.
Young Adult Carers
The 2008 report “Young Adult Carers in the UK” found that most carers aged 16-17 knew very little about services and support for adult carers aged over 18 and many were described to be anxious that the support they received as a young carer would cease once they reached 18.
Young Carers will not, in most cases, stop caring once they reach the age of 18 and it was important to recognise that the services and support currently available for Young Carers in Conwy did not exist over the age of 18. To ensure that Young Adult Carers remained valued, recognised and supported in their caring role it was important to ensure a smooth transition from children’s services to adult services by providing continued support and services for Young Carers.
From 1st April 2012 work began with Action for Children and Carers Outreach to bridge the gap between services for young carers so that once they reached 18 the move to adult services would run smoothly and that support would continue until the age of 24.
Promotion of the project took place across Conwy to ensure that information reached Young Adult Carers that there was support and service from them once they reached the age of 18. This promotional work also targeted hidden carers.
Groups have been set up with Action for Children providing help with employment (volunteering and work opportunities), CV writing, learning and training opportunities, individual information and support, social and leisure activities and peer support.
What difference has it made?
Young Adult Carers that have participated in the project have reported an improvement in their quality of life – confidence, choice, control, independence and emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
An 18 year old female transitioned from the Young Carers Project to the Young Adult Carers project. This young lady has been with the service for some years when her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. At that time both parents were working, the family was managing well and both children were doing well in school.
Following the diagnosis the family soon began to fall apart, the effects of which are still apparent today. The father was the stronger parent – always there for the family to lean on. The mother was immediately diagnosed with severe depression and soon lost her job. The family then started to have severe financial difficulties due to the loss of both wages. The young lady soon became very nervous and her school work dropped significantly and the relationships within the house became very stressed and difficult.
The father sadly passed away three years ago which resulted in the mother slipping further into depression and turning to alcohol for comfort.
The young lady relied heavily on the Young Carers Project and now does so with the Young Adult Carers project and she still provides a significant amount of care and support for her mother who still suffers with severe depression.
From the project this Young Adult Carer has benefitted by:-
- Support from staff at the project
- 1:1 support when needed
- Understanding of her needs as young adult carer as well as providing a safe environment to be “normal older teenager” – to have a laugh and let off steam with people that understand
- Encouragement with education and to fulfil her dream of becoming a midwife
- Accreditation by the Youth University on the life skills work achieved
- Ability and confidence to organise a fundraising event
- Confidence to lead a student forum in her high school