A warm welcome to our latest guest contribution to the Dementia Carer Voices blog, providing an insight into the work being undertaken by our partners across the sector to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers.
This week, we are delighted to introduce Fiona Collie, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Carers Scotland, who has taken time out to tell us about some of the work that Carers Scotland has been doing to improve support for carers throughout the country.
“We pledge to work with carers to help them get the advice and support they need and to work with professionals and policy makers across Scotland to improve support for carers.”
There are many changes affecting carers now and in the next few years – some positive, others not. Welfare reform, reductions in social care support, the introduction of self-directed support, integration of health and social care and indeed new carers’ legislation on the horizon all have an impact on carers’ lives.
Carers Scotland campaigns for those making decisions that will affect carers to listen and respect carers’ views and to involve them in designing systems for the future that will make their lives easier. Carers Scotland are also working on a range of activities, some in partnership, to improve the lives of carers.
With the changes brought about by welfare reform, this is a time of great concern for carers and to build the evidence need to push for change, we carried out a year-long inquiry into caring and family finances last year. The results were published earlier this year. http://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/news/caring-family-finances-inquiry and told us the very real struggles that carers face and the worries they have about the future.
We have disseminated this evidence to politicians across the UK and are building a campaign – We Care Don’t You – to lobby for the financial and practical support that carers need to continue to care. http://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/we-care-don-t-you. We are also working to ensure that politicians in Scotland, in working to mitigate the impact of welfare reform, know of the impact that these changes have had and will have on carers.
With all of these changes, it is more important than ever that carers and those they care for have access to the right information at the right time. Carers Scotland with our parent organisation Carers UK has been working to try and improve our access to advice and information for carers. We have extended our adviceline (0808 808 777) to offer advice 5 days a week to carers and also offer a listening ear service, staffed by carer volunteers. We also operate a 24 hour online forum for carers, moderated by carers, to help carers gain support from each other. http://www.carersuk.org/forum
We have built and are extending our resource of information for carers on finances, practical and emotional support and information to put carers in touch with support locally to support their own health and wellbeing. http://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice.
Living it Up
To help carers’ own health and wellbeing, Carers Scotland is part of the Living it Up Partnership. Living it Up is a three year programme working with five local partnerships across Scotland aimed at empowering people to improve their health and well-being.
Living it Up will deliver innovative and integrated health, care and wellbeing services, information and products via familiar technology enabling people to keep better connected with their communities and those they care for and receive care from. These technologies will include TV, mobile phone, games consoles, computers and tablets.
The five partnership areas are – the Western Isles, Forth Valley, Lothian, Moray and Highland/Argyll & Bute.
It is initially aimed at the over 50s but will also be of benefit to people living with long term conditions, care givers and those who just want to keep healthy, happy and safe.
The first phase involves 1500 people to act as ‘test users’ in the development of the project’s key services – Hidden Talents, Exchange, Keeping Connected and My Care.
These key services are the result of extensive community engagement events and co-design workshops attended by members of the community, service providers, technology experts and innovators. Ultimately the project aims to reach a community of 55,000 in Scotland by 2015. Find out more at: https://portal.livingitup.org.uk/
Carers Scotland and Carers UK also launched an app called Jointly to help carers and families manage care. It aims to make caring a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised by making communication and coordination between those who share the care as easy as a text message.
With Jointly you can create a circle of care for the person you are looking after. Once you have set up your Jointly circle you can start using Jointly to organise care.
You can use it on your own or you can invite other people to join you and share the care.
Jointly works on iPhone, iPad, Android devices and on most modern web browsers (home computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc).
Jointly is available to download as a mobile app from Apple and Google Play stores. Available online at www.jointlyapp.com
As part of the roll out of Jointly, we are working with local authorities, employers and others to offer licence packages so that they can offer this to carers they support.
On behalf of the Scottish Government, we recently launched and will operate Carer Positive.
Carer Positive aims to encourage employers to create a supportive working environment for carers in the workplace.
Supporting carers to manage the sometimes difficult job of balancing work with caring responsibilities can deliver real benefits to employers as well as helping individuals and their families. Unfortunately many carers give up work because the job of juggling their work and caring responsibilities simply becomes too much.
The Carer Positive kitemark is awarded to employers in Scotland who have a working environment where carers are valued and supported. Carer Positive employers recognise the importance of retaining experienced members of staff, reducing absence, and cutting down on avoidable recruitment costs.
Carers Scotland is working to involve as many employers as possible across Scotland – from private, public and third sector – to help them support carers in their workplaces.
Find out more: http://www.carerpositive.org/
This is just a small sample of what Carers Scotland is working on at the moment. Other key activities include involvement in policy and legislation such as integration of health and social care, national care standards, welfare reform in Scotland, telehealthcare to support carers and of course new carers legislation. With the national carer organisations we support the delivery of local training for carers, short breaks, a young carers festival and the Carers Parliament… and this year we’ve also been helping carers find out more about the referendum and what it means to them and ensuring that the needs of carers are considered in the debate. We are also in the final stages of producing a self-advocacy toolkit for carers with training for carers and professionals as a key element and will published a revised carers law guide and carers health guide later this year.
For more information about us visit www.carerscotland.org