The Carers’ Centre decided to undertake a review of Carers’ involvement to look at the way carers are involved within the service provided by the Carer’s Centre; and to ensure that the Carers’ have a voice in services within the local community.
The review consisted of a Survey via SurveyMonkey which Carers’ were asked to participate in giving feedback and views to help plan how carers’ are involved in the future.
Current Approach to Carers’ involvement
At present Carers’ are invited to participate in activities and breaks to gain opportunities away from caring to refresh and renew. These breaks include Two’s Company, Family Time and Me Time. Support Groups are also available within the Carers’ Centre to give carers’ the opportunity to meet other carers and enjoy some time out. Every three months the Carers’ Centre has been running Have Your Say Days to ensure that carers’ are involved. The trustee’s panel has a small selection of carers included in the panel.
Carers’ are represented with the majority of Carer’s Centres within the UK. The Carers UK holds a National Carers Summit & AGM for Carers’ to gain an opportunity to talk directly to the people who can influence the major issues affecting carers. This also allows the carer to meet other carers and former carers, and have the opportunity to shape Carers UK's future priorities.
What the Survey shows?
As part of the review a Survey was published on SurveyMonkey for carers’ to give feedback; 36 carers’ responded to the survey. This is a limited representation of the carers’ who currently use and participate within the Carers’ Centre. From the feedback given by the limited participants this shows that Carers’ are interested in participating and shaping the Carers’ Centre however due to their commitments would struggle to participate within this.
The majority of replies indicated that carers’ are happy to give feedback on Annual Carers Support Assessment when asked for comments several participates commented on feedback which suggestions of other forms of feedback such as;
“Perhaps an online vehicle on website?”
“Whenever a carer feels there is something to comment on or share, they should telephone or e-mail. Data could be collected from such feedback. Specific questions would not have been asked- the carer would simply be a voice on any given subject.”
“Via email after the break - people may have had time to reflect on the break; it's easy to forget at the time or think of something later. I imagine it could be anonymous if wished?”
Other feedback indicates that some participants have limited knowledge on feedback and suggested asking for feedback after the carers’ complete courses at the centres.
The Have Your Say Days that at present are run every three months this has not been as well attended as hoped for. One suggestion to improve the attendance of this was to create smaller sessions within the four predominate areas. When asked a high percentage felt that this was a good idea to hold separate sessions. Suggestions to improve this aspect of this service include;
“Do them in the evening when some carers aren't at work”
“Email people to remind them of time and place nearer the time. it is easy to forget they are being held.”
At present the trustee board is represented with a selection of people from different backgrounds. It is currently under represented by carers’ one suggestion to enable carers’ to become involved with and be able to feedback to the organisation is a shadow board. This would enable carers’ to meet up and discus the main issues that came from the board meetings. By providing this service it would allow carers’ views to be represented therefore helping the main board to make decisions that have the potential to affect the services and support carers’ receive. The feedback shows that carers’ feel that this is a good idea, “Worth a try” in general however make some suggestions;
“A good idea but I wonder if named Shadow Board sounds too formal may not attract people to take part. Haven't given it a great deal of thought but how about a Members Forum or something like that?”
“I think this would help and be less daunting. It depends on how reliable one has to be though - there may be many reasons why a carer could only give short notice that they are unable to attend.”
When Carers’ were asked later on in this Survey during Question Five Would you like to be part of a shadow trustee board the majority of people who answered and commented suggested that they would struggle to do this due to lack of time with carer commitments and the pressures already faced with carers.
To provide the general public information regarding carers’ it is important to include the carers’ within the service to provide educational talks to students and also to other organisations. This can be a daunting task for a carer to be involved with, therefore by creating a list of carers who would be more interested in participating in events relevant to their interests and experiences would ensure that no one was contacted that felt unable to assist in this area. Feedback shows that this is a good idea. Suggestions for this include;
“And mobile numbers so you can text them”
“Find out the carers who have time to be involved”
“Maybe an email to let people know what is required at different times, nearer the time, would prompt a response if the carer feels they can get involved, even if just as a one off or a short time. Many people would not be able to commit to anything ongoing.”
Question Six asked Carers’ if they would be prepared to have their name added on an register whereby they could be called at short notice to be involved within shaping services in the community. Half of the carers consented to this system. Each carer who passed on their information suggested their areas of interest;
“Young adults, physical difficulties, housing”
” Dementia friends champion, mental health, visual impairment, older people, drug and alcohol”
“All aspects of care within the community have become particularly interesting to me in recent years. I consider that taking account of the fact that we live mostly in communities and need to develop more awareness of each other and each other's needs in today's challenging societies and ways of life.”
Only a limited number of carers’ answered Question Seven which asked for suggestions from the carers’ on ideas to help improve carer involvement within the centre. The suggestions that were given to improve carers’ involvement include;
“I would guess there are quite a number of carers who have no direct contact with The Centre - would it be possible to phone them to stimulate wider use of The Centre?”
“Send out minutes of issues that have been discussed for comments. As a carer who works I don't have time for extra meetings”
“More local events. More evening or weekend events. More online engagement (what about skype, forums, or phone meetings - most businesses use a wide range of forums now, not just face to face).”
The survey that was undertaken shows that Carers’ expressed an interest in being involved with the Carers’ Centre and holding a voice in the services offered within the local community. However, Carers’ struggle with their caring commitments and there is limited personal time. From the feedback received by Carers’, a sub committee of trustees with a less formal title held within Bath and Radstock offices within the evenings would allow for Carers’ to hold a voice within the organisation.
More resource will provide greater support and Comic Relief are being approached for funding. If this is successful and a participation officer is recruited a more comprehensive plan for future carer involvement will be consulted on.