There are currently an estimated 70,000 unpaid carers in Leicestershire. This is a physically and emotionally demanding task, with carers being more likely to suffer from ill health than those without caring responsibilities.
To support carers in the area West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG are working collaboratively with Leicestershire County Council to commission a new service to identify carers earlier and provide them with advice and support to better care for themselves, as well as for their loved ones.
The service, known as the Carer Health & Wellbeing Service, is run by Voluntary Action South Leicestershire. It ran as a successful pilot in two district areas of Leicestershire and is now being extended to cover the whole of the county. It aims to identify carers, recognise the difficulties which they face and provide access to advice, information, support and signposting for those carers in the community to stay healthy and well.
Dr Mayur Lakhani, Chair of West Leicestershire CCG and a working GP in Sileby, said: “It is important that it is recognised that caring for a loved one is a difficult and sometimes thankless task. Caring can put a great strain on the carer, both physically and mentally, so they need support for themselves as well as for the person they care for.
“Older people who have caring responsibilities may also have caring needs of their own, for which they will need assistance. Carers provide a vital role in the community and West Leicestershire CCG is committed to working with VASL and Leicestershire County Council to identify and support carers and help to build communities where people understand the pressure which carers are under and work together to make their lives easier.”
Dave Houseman, the county council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Very often, carers go unnoticed in the wider community and sometimes they don’t know how and where to ask for help.
“As part of building a carer-friendly community, we have put a scheme in place to identify carers earlier and then offer them support. This includes information on how to access benefits and services and learning how to care for themselves, alongside their loved ones.”
As part of Better Care Together, a significant programme of work which will transform the health and social care system in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) by 2019, carers have been identified, through the frail and older person workstream, as a key group of people who need support.
Raising the profile of the difficulties Carers face is happening across the country. Carers Week, 8-14 June 2015, is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, to highlight the challenges carers face and to recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. This year, the campaign’s focus is on building Carer Friendly Communities.
Pat Wilkins, Services Manager for VASL, said: “Carers are unsung heroes in the community – and they need to be recognised for the contribution that they make. It’s not only the people they care for who benefit, but society would not be able to cope without them, they save the economy so much money through the unpaid work that they do.
“It is crucial that carers receive the support they need to continue to offer care in the way that is right for them. Carers Week is a great way to help with raising awareness of the struggles which carers face.”
If someone has caring responsibilities and is struggling to cope in any way then we urge them to contact email@example.com or call 01858 411 380 to speak to the Carer Health & Wellbeing Service and access support.