Caroline Lucas, MP joins us during Carers Week

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We were delighted to welcome Carers Centre Patron, Caroline Lucas MP to our Carers Week online coffee morning on Friday 12th June. As a passionate supporter of carers, Caroline outlined her recent parliamentary advocacy and welcomed questions from carers in attendance and those who had sent questions in to us.

Caroline paid tribute to all unpaid family/friend carers in Brighton & Hove. While Carers Week is an incredibly important week to celebrate, Caroline worries that carers don’t get the recognition they deserve during the other 51 weeks of the year. Caroline highlighted the incredible number (7 million in the UK) of people in work who are also taking on a caring role. Parents of children with special educational needs should also be recognised and Caroline continues to campaign for an increase to Carer’s allowance alongside a thorough review of the social care system.

We encourage you to write to your MP in support of Caroline’s Early Day Motion which calls for:

  • Increased funding for respite care
  • a living wage for carers – rather than Carer’s Allowance
  • Respite carers to be treated as skilled professionals
  • You can read more at Caroline’s Carers Week blog.

We were lucky to have Brighton & Hove City Council representatives Rob Persey and Gemma Scambler in attendance too. Caroline, Gemma, Rob and Tom (CEO of The Carers Centre for Brighton & Hove) have pledged to examine and respond to the following issues that were raised during the session:

Concerns around benefits for working carers and carers hoping to return to work – Caroline advocates an increase to Carers’ Allowance and the carer who raised this has been put into direct contact with Caroline’s team.

Concerns around Covid-19 testing for homecare staff and some care home residents – the carer raising this concern has been put into direct contact with Caroline’s team and a council response has been promised.

Council response from Gemma Scambler:

The Council has been coordinating a local testing response, for residential care homes, and advice that (as of the 11.6.20):

  • Any care worker can access testing if they are asymptomatic as well as symptomatic via the national testing service (Amex, Gatwick, mobile unit when it is in Brighton)
  • All over 65 homes registered and received whole home tests and this is now rolled out to all under 65 care homes
  • The Govt have not notified us of what the next round of testing will be

Additionally, the council have shared details with providers on how to access tests although we do not know the numbers of take up. There is no process in place for insisting carers are tested as standard at this time, in line with Government guidance.

How can carers be more involved in service delivery? – Carers were encouraged to join our Expert Carers group (contact Steve for more information) to enable their voice to be heard.

Council response from Gemma Scambler:

We do value the involvement of carers, and aim to involve all those who are involved in supporting and individual, and recognise the impact of situation on all the family network.  Our commitment is to listening to the needs/issues/contributions of all who are involved in supporting a vulnerable person.  We will soon be rolling out further Carer Awareness sessions with staff, in line with our Carers Strategy  “THINK CARER, building a Carer Friendly City” which has 4 Carer Friendly building blocks – Health (primary and secondary); Education (primary to further); Employment; and Social Care.  To be Carer Friendly we need to recognise, value and support carers, as key partners in caring- they are the experts of their situation, and we need to ensure they are supported with juggling the needs of the person they care for and their own needs.

The Brighton bike share scheme is currently free for NHS staff, could this offer be extended to carers too? –

Council response from Gemma Scambler:

I have started this discussion with the Bike scheme, and they currently have a number of pressures with different groups requesting free access (volunteers, care staff etc), this discussion continues.  However, if a carer has a carers assessment, and they have eligible needs, we can provide them with a Carers Personal Budget for them to use for an annual membership of the Bike scheme. We are looking to add the bike scheme to the Carers Card offer, which will then both support carers to use the scheme and encourage them to have a carers assessment.

How can carers in their mid-20s be supported to transition to adult carers’ services once they are no longer categorised as ‘young adult carers’? – The Carers Centre and local authority committed to exploring specialised support options for carers who feel underrespresented as part of their regular Carers Hub operational meetings and through our Carer Inclusion Work (contact Louisa for more information).

We will follow up with further updates to these actions through Carers News in the near future.

A huge thank you to the carers that contributed to this fascinating and productive session and of course, our gratitude goes out once more to our special guests; Caroline, Rob and Gemma.

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