Agenda item

Carers' Strategy Update


Mr Gary Collier, the Council’s Health and Social Care Integration Manager, advised that the report was being considered by the Select Committee prior to being considered by the Executive.  Members would therefore have the opportunity for their comments to be included in the version that was sent to Cabinet.  As well as the structure of the new Strategy, information had been included in the report to provide Members with a broader understanding.  The Committee was assured that future reports would be shorter. 


It was noted that, as the Carers’ Strategy was a joint strategy for Hillingdon which covered carers of all ages, there was a cross over with the Children, Families and Education Select Committee.  The draft new strategy would be considered by both Select Committees before going to Cabinet.  The Committee was advised that this would be in Q4.  [NOTE: Since the meeting, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) announced that carer-related data from the 2021 census would not be published until December 2022 and officers have advised that sign-off of the new strategy would be deferred until Q1 2023/24].


Mr Collier advised that the main support offer for carers was provided via the Carer Support Services contract between the Council and Carers Trust Hillingdon (CTH).  CTH was the lead organisation for the Hillingdon Carers’ Partnership (HCP was a consortium of local third sector organisations which also included the Alzheimer’s Society, Harlington Hospice and Hillingdon Mind). 


The Committee was advised that the development and delivery of the Joint Carers’ Strategy was overseen by the multi-agency Carers’ Strategy Group (CSG).  Efforts were being made to get carer representatives to attend the CSG, but it would be important that these carers approached the development and delivery task objectively.  It was noted that a carer representative on the group had recently decided to leave due to changes in their personal circumstances.


Members were advised that a guide for carers had been co-produced between the Council and Carers’ Trust and was available on the Council’s website.  Hard copies of this leaflet (“Are you a carer?”) were circulated to Members at the meeting.  The Committee noted the intention that this would be used by partners across the health and care system to support people who may not realise that they were carers.  It was emphasised that the key message for carers was to contact the Carers’ Trust to access a full range of information and advice.


The Chairman advised that the Committee was likely to be more focussed on the future draft strategy where the Members’ input could be most valuable going forward.  The report stated that new staff starting with Hillingdon Health and Care Partners were provided with an hour’s introductory training about the role of carers in supporting the health and care system and the importance of identifying them and addressing their needs.  It was agreed that this training would be made available to Members of the Health and Social Care Select Committee. 


In response to a question about how the voice of the carers was heard, Mr Collier stated that HCP partners had various ways of engaging with carers.  The new Joint Carers’ Strategy would set out how feedback from carers would be captured to help to shape priorities within the strategy delivery plan. 


The Committee was informed that there were currently two Carers’ Forum (CF) meetings scheduled each year and it was noted that the feasibility of holding meetings in different parts of the Borough would be explored during 2022/23.  It was agreed that a CF representative would be invited to a future Select Committee meeting and that Members of the Committee be invited to attend a future CF meeting. 


In terms of the contract with CT, Mr Collier advised that monitoring needed to be proportionate so as not to overburden the provider and detract from service delivery.  CT provided update reports every six months and worked closely with Council officers to provide regular feedback.  Feedback received from carers and their families was also important when monitoring the contract. 


The Carer Support Service contract was due to expire in August 2023 and Mr Collier advised Members that the specification was currently being reviewed with the intention of taking a more integrated approach across health and social care.  It was also necessary to reflect new statutory guidance concerning hospital discharge that was expected to be issued later in 2022/23. 


Mr Collier advised that the number of adult carers on the Carers Register was 4,241 as at 31 March 2022 and not 2,287 as stated in the report.


Following a query from Councillor Nelson, Mr Collier advised that, although it was known that the survey was sent out to 677 adult carers in the Borough, he would provide Members with the number of questionnaires that had been returned in relation to the National Carers’ Survey undertaken in November 2021.  The results of the survey were expected to be published in June 2022 and the results would be reflected in the new strategy.  [NOTE: After the meeting, it was confirmed that 233 completed surveys were returned, or 34% of those issued.  This was slightly lower than with the last survey in 2018/19 when 36% were returned, but higher than in 2016/17 when it was 30%].


The report stated that carers identified by Adult Social Care often declined the offer of a carer assessment.  Mr Collier stated that this could be for a number of reasons including: the care package met their needs; they didn’t want to be labelled as a ‘carer’; their own support network was seen as sufficient; or they considered that the support offered by Carers’ Trust met their needs.  It was noted that those carers who did not want to go through the carer assessment process were still able to access the universal services provided under the Carer Support Service contract. 


Following a query, Mr Collier advised that the services provided to meet the needs of the cared for person might also have a benefit to the carer.  However, the Committee was informed that it was not possible to quantify this, i.e., the split in the proportion of a provided service between what was benefitting the cared for person and the carer.  As this would be different for each household there was no meaningful way of recording it.


The report stated that there had been a 45% increase in demand on Mind support services which had led to more psychotherapy and peer support groups being established.  Mr Collier would provide Members with information about any additional resources that had been put in place to meet this increase in demand. 


£1,052k had been secured in carer-related benefits during the review period to improve the household incomes of carers in Hillingdon.  Mr Collier would establish how many carers this figure related to and forward this on the Members of the Committee.  [NOTE: After the meeting, Members were advised that this additional income had been secured for 572 households in 2021/22].


Principle 1 in the delivery plan update was to support the identification, recognition and registration of carers in primary care.  As the actions therein had been delayed or deferred as a result of the pandemic, Members requested that further information be provided on when action would be resumed, and outcomes delivered.  There were 27 practices with carer leads and it was noted that the 2022/23 delivery plan had a target to increase this number by six, which the Committee was advised was a realistic target taking into consideration the competing priorities faced by GPs.  Targets for future years would be considered in consultation with The GP Confederation as part of the development of the new strategy.


RESOLVED:  That the Committee:

1.    endorsed the alignment of reporting frequency on the delivery of support for carers to enable the Committee’s views to be reflected in future update reports to Cabinet;

2.    noted progress against the Carers’ Strategy delivery plan activity for 2021/22;

3.    endorsed the proposed vision, mission, supporting principles and intended outcomes for the 2022 to 2026 Joint Carers’ Strategy;

4.    endorsed the 2022/23 delivery plan;

5.    questioned officers and partners on any other aspect of the report; and

6.    identified any comments it wished to include in the annual delivery plan update report to Cabinet.

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