1. Current work and important initiatives in the West Wales Region
A full breakdown of the work that is being carried out in West Wales under the guidance of the WWCDG can be found in Annual reports produced by the group. These annual reports provide full detail on all the actions and programmes delivered through the carers programme by WWCDG:
2. Current support services
A range of care and support services are in place across the region to support carers. Some services are commissioned individually by statutory bodies and others are jointly commissioned on a county or regional basis. The WWCDG provides a key forum for partnership working between the commissioning bodies and ensures collaboration on the development of plans for utilisation of Welsh Government grant funding, e.g. Integrated Care Fund and Carers grants.
The West Wales Carers’ Development Group (WWCDG) has been able to coordinate several important pieces of work, including:
- Providing young carers with access to a comprehensive information service and enabling them to notify supermarkets, pharmacies, teachers and others that they have caring responsibilities.
- Continued roll-out of the Investors in Carers’ Scheme, increasing the awareness of professionals across sectors including primary, community and acute health care, schools, libraries, social care, Job Centre Plus and third sector organisations of the needs of carers. Over 120 settings are currently participating in the scheme and many more are working towards their award. The scheme also enables people to register as a carer with their GP, leading to the offer of a referral to the local Carers’ Information Service which can provide additional information, advice and support
- Deployment of Carers Officers (employed by the third sector) within hospitals to support health professionals to identify unpaid carers, improve their involvement in the discharge process and provide information and support.
- Continued delivery of the Introduction to Looking After Me (I2LAM) programme for carers across West Wales, helping carers learn new skills and take care of their own health while looking after someone else.
- Roll-out of the Carers’ Resilience and Wellbeing Programme, providing carers with a ‘what matters’ conversation and appropriate support including preventative interventions and respite
- Establishment of the regional Carers Support Innovation Fund offering third sector organisations with short-term funding to deliver support for carers. Initiatives supported include physical fitness sessions, sports reminiscence events, online craft and social sessions and targeted support for older carers
- Roll-out of the Employers for Carers (EfC) scheme in West Wales providing access to a range of resources for statutory and third sector partners. This has enabled organisations to review policies and procedures through a carers’ lens and offer practical support to employees with caring responsibilities through the introduction of carers passports and staff networks
- Various digital inclusion initiatives to assist carers during the pandemic, including the Pembrokeshire Digital Connections Partnerships supporting people, including carers, to access digital equipment and technology.
3. Support and Care Services
In addition to the programmes of work carried out under the WWDCG funded Welsh Government grant programmes, there are also several support and care services available to carers which are commissioned by Hywel Dda UHB and Local authorities. These can be broadly broken down into services that support:
- Identification and recognition
- Advice and information
- Assessment of carers needs
- Practical support (for example replacement care, help around the home, shopping)
- Condition specific support for the carer and the person they care for.
4. Local Authority and Community
In addition to the specialised health support and services provided by Hywel Dda UHB, there are several other support mechanisms provided by local authorities:
- Universal services - For example leisure centres, community centres, libraries, adult education opportunities although it is recognised that these services do not yet provide consistent equal access to people with LD
- Preventative services - Council grant funding supports the growth of alternative community services that are co-produced with members of communities enabling people to build upon their own individual strengths and resources. These include good neighbour schemes, luncheon clubs, community enterprises, community/ voluntary services
- Day Opportunities - Providing social contact and stimulation, reducing isolation and loneliness, maintaining and / or restoring independence, offering activities which provide mental and physical stimulation, providing care services, offering low-level support for people at risk
- Respite provision - Short breaks/respites is a key commitment in recognition that planned breaks are an essential part of supporting families
- Commissioned Services - Individually commissioned supported living arrangements which enable people with learning disabilities to live in their own tenancies with support at varying levels, and residential services which include both the provision of accommodation and care on site, with care being available 24 hours per day. Advocacy services are commissioned across the region; and
- Direct Payments -These provide another way for individuals to access a range of opportunities by being able to choose who provides the services they need.
5. Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
In West Wales, the local authorities and third sector organisations have responded very well to the Covid-19 pandemic, quickly adapting their services and in some cases moving activities online.
For example, the Newport Carers group in Pembrokeshire went from meeting face-to-face to meeting on Zoom, supported by a Community Connector. As a result, the Carers group became more accessible to Carers across the County, attracting new Carers looking for online peer support.
Another example is Ceredigion Carers Unit who provided a full programme of workshops, training and discussions around Carers rights over the last six months of 2020-21.
All young Carers services have continued to operate and adapted ways of working, utilising Zoom, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams.
Regular contact has been maintained with young Carers and their families to address issues.
All services have observed a decline in both young people’s and parents’ mental health over the year and services have responded by offering appropriate support.