The feedback we received earlier in the pandemic, along with what Northamptonshire Carers and Carers’ Voice Northamptonshire heard, suggested that changes to services during the pandemic had affected those who provide informal (unpaid) care to family and friends and that there has been an increase in the number of unpaid carers.
To find out more about the experiences and needs of carers we worked with Northamptonshire Carers and Carers’ Voice on a survey, interviews and a consultation event.
The findings showed that the impact on carers had been huge, with many working tirelessly and at breaking point, having to meet the physical and emotional needs of those they care for without much support from others or respite. The report also highlights the support carers need, both during the pandemic and longer term.
Supporting carers is a team effort involving health services, social care, employers, voluntary sector, education and the wider community. The findings from this work will be shared widely and Northamptonshire Carers support will work with partners to deliver upon it.
Response to the findings from Northamptonshire Carers
Coronavirus has impacted everyone in Northamptonshire and beyond. For unpaid carers and young carers though, this impact is twofold: not just are they concerned about their own health, wellbeing and in many instances finance but they are also having to consider the person they care for. Our Carers Support Line received many calls from carers who had very complex, risky or worrying challenges. For example, carers who had to juggle working with caring for a loved-one who was clinically vulnerable – if they themselves were vulnerable then their employer would have let them shield from home, but this was not possible to protect the cared-for person. Carers of people with dementia called us in crisis after respite and day care was cancelled or felt nervous about care workers visiting their home when there were concerns about PPE supplies. Parent carers and young carers were disproportionately affected when schools were closed and even when reopened, we spoke to many who were anxious due to health conditions within the family.
This report demonstrates this impact and also highlights what support is needed. Some of this is already in place with a popular menu of online activities to provide a break from caring. We are planning on keeping much of this whilst reopening face-to-face support in-line with guidance. As the report finds, flexibility suits many carers whether it be in the workplace or in terms of delivery of services. This allows an individual approach which best suits a caring role – there are 70,000 carers in Northamptonshire, each with their own circumstances who would benefit from this approach.
Supporting carers is a team effort involving health services, social care, employers, voluntary sector, education and the wider community. In doing so each of these partners also benefits such as reduced reliance of statutory services or absenteeism at school or work. Northamptonshire Carers support the outcomes of this report and will work with partners to deliver upon it.
We would like to thank Healthwatch Northamptonshire, Carers’ Voice and everyone who contributed to this comprehensive and insightful report.
The report is currently being reviewed and will be published soon.