Southampton leaders pledge to support carers

Carers Week activities

Stephanie Ramsey - Director of Quality and Integration at NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) with the pledge

Southampton City Council and its partners will be marking national Carers Week by pledging to support hidden carers and raising awareness of caring. They will be highlighting the challenges unpaid carers face and recognising the enormous contribution they make not only to those they care for, but to society.

During the COVID-19 pandemic many residents have, found themselves in a position where they have become carers to people who prior to lockdown were reasonably independent, but were forced to shield and self-isolate.

For many others in Southampton, providing care and support for a loved one is nothing new. Southampton has more than 32,000 unpaid carers, including 466 young carers aged under 15 and 1,612 young carers aged 16-25, according to 2011 census. A carer is anyone who provides unpaid support to a relative, partner, child or friend due to illness, disability, frailty, a mental health condition or substance misuse problem.

The theme for national Carers Week, which runs from 8 to 14 June is ‘Make Caring Visible’. This year in partnership with our commissioned provider, Carers in Southampton, we are asking carers to identify the support around them and for the community to help them access it, as part of our ACCESS Campaign.

Carers Week - Cllr Fielker

Councillor Lorna Fielker - Cabinet member for Health and Adults, Grainne Siggins - Director of Wellbeing (Health and Adults), Councillor Darren Paffey - Cabinet Member for Aspiration, Children and Lifelong Learning and Stephanie Ramsey - Director of Quality and Integration at NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have signed a pledge to continue to shine a light and support local carers.

GrainneUnder normal circumstances Southampton City Council and our partners would also be celebrating Carers Week by hosting opportunities for carers to meet up and share their experiences. Unfortunately, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme of activities has had to change in order to adhere to social distancing guidance.

To support residents and employers to recognise the types of caring roles, online Carer Aware training is available free of charge. The training can be done by anyone, takes 20 minutes and gives participants the skills and information to identify hidden carers and assist them to know their rights and find the support they need, both locally and nationally.

To further support carers, they are now able to put their emergency plans on the council’s database, making them easily accessible to emergency services and adult social care, to provide care if needed. Carers are encouraged to complete the emergency plans form on the Carers in Southampton website

Carers Week - Cllr Darren Paffey

No Limits will also be running interactive online sessions with young carers to encourage them to identify five things they can do to support them in an emergency, to help relieve the anxieties about what to do in an emergency and ensure they are prepared if they ever need to call for support.

Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care said: “We recognise the valuable role of our many carers across the city, they are often ‘unsung heroes’ providing care day-in and day-out for loved ones in our community. The pandemic has seen many unpaid carers playing a vital role in supporting our service and we truly value the work they do and their tireless dedication.

Carers Week is a chance for us to celebrate the good work they do and recognise that we need to play our part in supporting them. We are pledging this week to continue to work in partnership to help increase the identification of carers of all ages and to signpost them to our local support services. Everyone has a part to play in making sure carers can ACCESS support.”

Case studies

Kim* has been caring for her mum who was diagnosed with dementia.

“I worked as a professional carer for 20 years so had skills that I could transfer to my caring role. I felt equipped. However, being a carer for a family member was a different mindset that I had to get used to. You are a human being and its hard – it’s fine, but it’s still hard. It is something that needs to be done, and you can do it to the best of your abilities.

To begin with it was difficult - early on. I was able to access Carers in Southampton who were very supportive as well as the Admiral Nurses, who I could see were providing lots of support to me and other people. Emergency Plans will be very useful.”

If you know of anyone caring for someone that could do with a support network, Carers in Southampton, is a free service for anyone giving their time unpaid to look after a family member, friend or neighbour.

Zac* is a young carer for his sister.

 “I like my young carers group because I like getting to know a person who is going through a similar situation.”

Zac is a young carer and is 8 years old. His sister has complex health needs which requires 24-hour support and is dependent on others to meet all her needs. His Mum is a single parent and does the majority of the caring, but Zac supports her and spends a lot of time with her at home.

Before Zac was involved with No Limits, support for young carers, he found leaving the house extremely difficult and had limited access to any social interaction outside of school.

No Limits encouraged Zac to attend Young Carers groups regularly, which has reduced his social isolation. No limits also matched Zac with a volunteer befriender to take him out in the community to access fun activities, reduce his stress and enable him to spend time just being a child.

If you know of a young carer who is caring for someone that could do with a support network, No Limits, provides support and advice for young carers in Southampton.

* Names have been changed to protect the individual’s identity