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Agenda Item No 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 13th January, 2013

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Support Services for Carers

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Members of developments in the way support services for carers are provided.

Recommendation

1.         That Scrutiny Committee notes the report.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         To enable Scrutiny Committee to exercise effective oversight of the support services made available to carers within the Vale of Glamorgan.

Background

2.         Carers are individuals who provide some form of physical care or emotional support, advice or advocacy to a disabled or vulnerable person.  All carers have a right for their views to be considered when social services or the NHS are making decisions about the needs of the individual for whom they care.

3.         Carers who provide or intend to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis have a statutory right to an assessment and, in certain circumstances, to receive support services from the social services department. The provision of a support service funded by the Council depends on the carer satisfying the eligibility criteria, following an assessment.

4.         There is no single definition of a 'carer'.  For the purposes of providing carers' services within the Vale of Glamorgan, the term excludes individuals who provide care by virtue of a contract of employment or as a volunteer for a voluntary organisation.  This exclusion accords with the distinction made within the Carers Acts. 

5.         None of the Acts define a 'carers service'.  Following an assessment, the local authority may provide any services that will 'help the carer care for the person cared for' but, in general, this cannot involve any intimate care.  Guidance accompanying the Acts gives example of the types of services that could be provided to carers.  These include a telecare service, training, moving and handling classes, a mobile phone, a computer, trips or driving lessons.  In accordance with the guidance,  A range of services has been developed in the Vale of Glamorgan, which focus on the outcome being sought by the carer and the person cared for.  Provision of such services will depend on the Department being satisfied that they are a cost effective means of sustaining the caring relationship. 

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         The number of recorded carers' assessments in the Vale of Glamorgan increased to 138 in 2012/13, from a base of 28 in 2008.  The number of carers assessments for 2013/14 currently recorded to the end of October stands at 124.  This continuous growth is largely the result of introducing Carers Support Officers within the three adult services teams but it has been influenced also by greater awareness of the availability and the positive outcomes achieved from the support available via these specialist assessments.

7.         Agreements with Third Sector organisations help to provide respite and a much needed break for carers who are then able to attend to their own health, wellbeing and other needs.  The Third Sector also provides a Carers Advocate, small repairs service and financial advice in relation to trusts and wills for carers wishing to make financial arrangements for the person(s) they care for.  All these service providers are encouraged to participate in the Carers Services Information and Networking Group, a stakeholder and learning network supported by the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services.  Feedback and monitoring information provided from these organisations is used to inform service delivery and development.

8.         A flexible fund, established in 2010, enables individual carers to receive discretionary payments.  This is used to meet one-off needs identified by case managers and subject to an approval process involving team managers.  The funding is especially useful where the more traditional sitting/domiciliary services are not appropriate or required.  For example, it has been used recently to provide transport so that a Parent Carer can attend training in relation to her child's Autism, for driving lessons and also assisted a carer so that they could take up the opportunity of a free holiday abroad as respite from his caring role.  Most requests involve the flexible sitting service which carers can organise at times and intervals suitable to their individual needs.

9.         As well as respite, information continues to be one of the most requested and valued carers' service.  The Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 has facilitated a marked improvement in the provision of information for carers.  NHS colleagues have been involved in partnership arrangements with both the local authority and Third Sector in developing and implementing the Strategy.  The first Interim Report from the Cardiff and Vale partnership illustrates the progress made to date in meeting the objectives of the Measure and demonstrates the range and number of improvements made to the arrangements for informing and supporting carers.  (Attached as Appendix 1)   Local developments include a review of information provided on the Council website, on GP Carers Notice Boards and via a quarterly carers' newsletter (Caring Times) which now has a circulation of over 700 carers. A survey to gather feedback from carers themselves on the difference the Measure has made to date is being carried out across the partnership in January 2014.  

10.      The number of carers registered for a Carers Emergency Card has reached 134.  Carers are able to carry a card which identifies, in case of accident or emergency, the contingency arrangements agreed in advance by the carer and the person they care for. The card enables the plan, registered with the local authority, to be activated at any time of day or night.  The scheme links existing services (such as assessment/ care planning, the social services client database and out-of-hours services) in a process that provides invaluable reassurance to carers that arrangements will be put in place if they are incapacitated.

11.      Additionally, the number of training opportunities to help carers in their role has been increased via an arrangement for them to access certain social services training programmes and events.  For example, this initiative has seen carers attending manual handling and medicines management courses.  Existing courses are being tailored to incorporate carers, wherever possible.  This facility complements the training made available via one-off initiatives such as a Managing Challenging Behaviour course, attended by 18 carers.

12.      Current initiatives include working with GP Practices to establish and develop Carers Champions within the surgeries, to improve the identification of and support provided to carers.  Another work stream has resulted in a Young Carers Group which is overseeing a scoping exercise to identify the number of young carers within Vale of Glamorgan schools and their needs.  The findings from this survey will link together the work of the Children and Young People Partnership, the Carers Strategy Measure and existing carers' services provision within both the Council and voluntary sector.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13.      In the current financial year, the budget for Carers Services is £335,000.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      There are no sustainability or climate change implications as a direct result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      Three Acts deal directly with the needs of carers.  The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 introduced the concept of a 'carers assessment' where the carer is providing a "substantial amount of care on a regular basis".  The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 extended the rights of carers over 16 years old to be assessed even when the person cared for refused a community care assessment (s1), including the right to support services and for them to be made available via direct payments or 'vouchers'.  The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 introduced a statutory obligation on social services to inform carers of their rights and for carers' assessments to consider whether the carer works or wishes to work and/or is undertaking, or wishes to undertake, education, training or any leisure activity.

16.      This legislation gives carers the right to be informed about their entitlements, to request a separate assessment of their needs and, in certain circumstances, to receive services and support.

17.      The draft Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill proposes a duty for local authorities to undertake a carers assessment where it appears to the local authority the carer has needs for care and support.  The carer no longer needs to be providing 'a substantial amount of care on a regular basis' to be able to have an assessment. 

18.      The Bill requires assessments to be proportionate, to ensure that work is focused on delivering support.  This means that straightforward situations such as providing short-term help after discharge from hospital, meals on wheels, home help, supported shopping, gardening, transport, access to leisure services can be arranged as a result of a proportionate assessment.  For people with more complex needs, where assistance is required from a wide range of services, a more comprehensive assessment will apply.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.      There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.      In addition to the duty to inform carers of their rights, the Carers (Equal Opportunity) Act 2004 provides for better co-operation between statutory agencies in the provision of support for carers.

21.      The Council is also fully aware of its obligations under The Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010 and the Carers Strategy for Wales 2013, which places a new duty on the NHS and the local authority to prepare, publish and implement local information for carers and also to engage in consultation with carers.  The various key actions under these provisions are to be introduced in stages, up to and including 2016.

22.      Carers are not specifically identified as a 'protected characteristic' under the Equality Act 2010.  However, the Council recognises that the Equality Act 2010 generally protects carers on the basis that they are 'associated' with a disabled person and it is mindful of its obligations towards carers.  However, no specific equal opportunities issues arise as a consequence of the content of this Report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.      The provision of Carers Services enables the Department to contribute to the following Corporate Objectives

  • Providing targeted, preventative services locally - work with partners to implement the Carers Information and Consultation Strategy.

24.      The provision of Carers Services meets the following Service Objectives:

  • Service Outcome 1 Objective 1 - To ensure that people have access to comprehensive information about social services and can easily contact key staff. Individuals get prompt advice and support (including advice about their eligibility for service) and they are well signposted to other services where appropriate.
  • Service Outcome 1 Objective 2 - To ensure that people using social services are supported by assessments, care and support plans which are regularly reviewed.
  • Service Outcome 2 Objective 3 - To provide services which meet assessed individual needs.
  • Service Outcome 2 Objective 4 - To ensure that people's views on gaps in services and effectiveness of support result in changes and help inform how services are monitored and developed.
  • Service Outcome 3 Objective 5 - To ensure that people are helped to achieve the best possible outcome for them, maximising their independence, developing their abilities and overcoming barriers.

Policy Framework and Budget

25.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

26.      There was no process of consultation that contributed directly to this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

27.      Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

Carers Information and Consultation Strategy - Progress Report October 2013.

 

Contact Officer

Nicola Hale, Team Manager, Innovation and Information.

 

Officers Consulted

None.

 

Responsible Officer:

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation.

 

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