"Recognising the difficulties facing unpaid carers, at the end of 2019 we launched a new five-year strategy for supporting unpaid carers in York, with the overall vision to create a carer friendly city."
The main support, commissioned by the council, to carers in York comes through the York Carers Centre – the first point of contact for carers of all ages and backgrounds in the city, an immensely respected service, providing information, support, advice and engagement throughout communities. Alongside the Carers Centre, there are other organisations such as TuVida, Age UK In Safe Hands and specific short break services such as the newly built facility for children with disabilities Beehive (Centre of Excellence) and Flaxman Avenue, which provide excellent support to carers in York.
Recognising the difficulties facing unpaid carers, at the end of 2019 we launched a new five-year strategy for supporting unpaid carers in York, with the overall vision to create a carer friendly city. Written by the Carers Strategy Group, which represents health and social care organisations, including the council and charities as well as families and carers themselves, The York Carers Strategy sets out actions plans which seek to bring our wider ambition to life.
These broadly include educating service providers, employers and the wider community on carers, their needs and the barriers they face; promoting the excellent available support; supporting carers to access and remain in employment and, crucially - directly involving carers in the development of personalised support models to recognise different needs and challenges of unpaid carers across the city.
Although the pandemic saw the progression of the action plans put on hold, the City-wide Carers Strategy Group has committed to reviewing the plans in light of the challenges brought about by the Coronavirus outbreak, with first meetings set to take place in a few weeks with carers, partners and all stakeholders. We are working with carers to make sure their views, experiences, thoughts and ideas are taken seriously and genuinely make a difference in creating better support provision locally.
Find out more about the themes and action plans in the York Carers Strategy 2019 to 2024.
Lobbying and local campaigns
Liberal Democrat group brought a motion on increasing carers allowance to Full Council (17 December 2020), which passed unanimously and states:
- That the Council lobby national government to increase Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year, from its current rate of £67.25 a week to £87.25, in line with the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit, including those who do not receive the Allowance due to overlapping benefits and with equivalent increase in Carer Premium and Carer Addition.
- To call on the Government to expand the eligibility for Carer’s Allowance, by raising the earning limit from £128 a week to at least £139.52.
- To request that the Executive Members for Communities and Adult Social Care & Health bring forward a report to a decision session, to highlight the work and voluntary efforts of careers in the city, including highlighting the work of the York Carers Centre. This report should further identify what is and can be done to support carers in York.
We have pledged £150,000 in our 2021/22 budget to further support carers and mental health provision in the city:
- Extend the Age UK/Dementia Forward and York Carers Centre project that is supporting some of the groups of people in York most affected by the COVID 19 pandemic to access resources and support to help them through the winter and deliver a range of support interventions for carers and individuals with a diagnosis of dementia through to March 2022. The interventions are also designed to give carers, including young carers and individuals diagnosed with dementia, activities and events to look forward to while normal routines and activities are disrupted. £50K (see attached more info on the proposed support services)
- Work with the local Voluntary Sector to provide additional low level Mental Health Support during 2021/22 to support health services and provide additional counselling, peer support, activities, befriending etc. £100,000
- Mental health is proving a challenge for carers and those they care for in light of the pandemic. Spending time at home for families where there is a child with special needs and/or an adult behavioural problems and days and weekends blurring together with no distinction or time away from the home. On top of this are the pressures of shopping, medication, prescriptions, appointments all under COVID restrictions
Young and young adult carers: are facing huge challenges and York Carers Centre are finding, as reports suggest, an increase in mental health problems amongst this age group.
- Statutory services: carers inform York Carers Centre that MH crisis response is poor and combined with a lack of respite/regular groups not running carers are not getting a break. This is having a huge impact particularly on carers e.g. looking after someone with dementia.
Other areas to note:
- Tackling loneliness and isolation (particularly of elderly, frail and vulnerable carers where loneliness and poor mental health contribute to frailty and other physical health problems).
- Employers supporting carers at work through flexible working
- Lack of provision for dual diagnosis treatment (Carers attending York Carers Centre peer support addiction sessions are reporting that dual diagnosis is not applied to those who do not have severe mental health problems. For instance, depression and anxiety being identified as moderate would not rate as part of a dual diagnosis).