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Carers in Hertfordshire

Summary

Description

Operational Information

Evaluation

More Info

Summary

In recent years, many local authorities have put in place web-based support for carers to promote telecare. Carers in Hertfordshire is one of these. Its mission is to highlight the important role telecare can play in social care. The service was set up in 1995 by the local volunteer organisation to use ICT to reach out to carers and support them in planning care support. Carers in Hertfordshire aims at providing quality services to all informal carers in the county of Hertfordshire by means of tools and opportunities for training, socialising, sharing experiences, obtaining information and receiving economic help. An important driver was the great number of unrecognised informal carers in the UK. An economic driver of Carers in Hertfordshire was to be a competitive and effective service by offering a helpline to carers. This type of service generally represents the first point-of-contact for carers seeking information and sign-posting to services, or simply someone to talk with. The organisation is managed by trustees and funded by different sources, including the local county council. Its staff is composed of advisors helped by volunteers. Promotionally the service relies on its websites and organises several care-related events. Due to its success and low cost, in terms of financial and human resources, Carers in Hertfordshire appears sustainable in the long term. The service could positively affect the quality of life of informal carers and, as consequence, of their loved ones. The initiative could have also a positive impact on the National Health System (NHS) as it helps train informal and formal carers and prevent burn-out among the latter. The Hertfordshire Carers group, that set up all supplied services and joins in the Hertford Carers Centreis well integrated into the local social health network, however its limited local coverage could be extended in the UK or to other countries without difficulty, thank to its affiliation to Carers UK that member of Eurocarers, an international association of carers organisations throughout Europe (www.eurocarers.org)

Description
refers to the target users, kind of service provided, ICTs typologies and devices used

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Carers in Hertfordshire
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UK
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1995
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The service’s main objective is to inform and support unpaid informal carers. The aim is to outline the potential benefits of telecare equipment and explaining how it can impact on the lives of carers’ and their care recipients.

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The initiative’s main motivation was to provide informal carers with economic, emotional, psychological and practical information to help them make choices about their life and their caring role. (One social driver was the high number of unsupported informal carers in the UK.)

Other social drivers were:

  • To allow carers to continue to care.
  • To reconcile work and free time of carers.
  • To reduce caring costs by means of a benefits check.
  • Strategies to improve carers’ health, by reducing anxiety, stress and isolation.
  • Employee rights and options as a working carer.
  • Assess the impact of any work-related decisions and find out the available facilities for the care recipient.

Carers in Hertforshire worked at different levels.

  • Individually, by informing and advising carers about access to services to allow them to voice their needs.
  • Collectively, by creating opportunities to meet with other carers in order to share their experience and to speak directly to service providers and planners.
  • Across the county, by gaining knowledge of carers' concerns and difficulties and using this to influence plans for future services.
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Yes Care Recipients
Yes Informal carers
Yes Paid assistants
Yes Formal carers

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Not available

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No Independent Living
Yes Information and learning for carers
Yes Personal Support and Social Integration for carer
Yes Care coordination

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The service offers informal carers individual meetings about:

  • What it is Carers’ assessment and how to request it.
  • Benefits for carers and access to specialist advice for more complex problems.
  • The importance of time off, how to arrange it and, in some instances, funding for it.
  • What community care and health services are available and how to get access.
  • Legal advice on caring such as residential care, wills and trusts.
  • Emotional support and space to talk about the needed support
  • Creating a contingency plan if a carer were suddenly unavailable.
  • Having a life outside of caring, whether in employment, leisure activities or continued learning.

The initiative offers a range of free workshops and training on caring, as well as courses and learning events to improve the daily quality life of informal carers outside of caring. Details of all these opportunities can be mailed to users free through the quarterly publication “Carewaves” and are listed on their website. Lastly Carers in Hertfordshire's Young Carers Project addresses young carers, aged 9–18 years, of family members. The Project’s main focus is to reduce the burden of young carers by locally supporting them and their families. It offers young carers:

  • Information
  • Free breaks and activities
  • A voice for young carers' issues
  • Support groups
  • Information and support within schools.

Advice on how to get to venues and support for funding alternatives for care recipients are also available on request.

The Charity promotes also carers’ rigths: the Carers’ Passport Discount Card for example, offers unpaid carers savings when they show their photo ID card in shops and when using local services.

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A personal computer, tablet and smartphone connected to the internet.

Operational Information
refers to the type of funding, budget, sustainability and organisations involved

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Both public and private
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Public service funding: Government, Regional, Local Authorities, non-profit public entities
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Not available

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Non-profit funding: charity, volunteers organisations, NGO
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Not available

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Not applicable

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Carers in Hertfordshire was formed in 1995 by carers as a countywide Charity and became a charitable company limited by guarantee in 2000. They are associate members of Carers UK and members of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers Network of carers. It is governed by trustees, some of whom are carers. It is funded by resources from the public, private and third sectors, including the local authority (Hertfordshire County Council), which allocates some of its carers grant funds to third sector organisations supporting carers. The website hosts a dedicated section for donations. Informal carers using the service are not required to pay. Sustainability in the long term is positive as the service does not require much human and financial resources and operates within a local public plan to support informal care

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€ More than 500,000
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In 2012/2013, this charity had incoming resources of £1.315.184 (1.591.372,64 €) and expenditures of £1,239,645 (1.499.970,45 €) for charitable activities (including 25 employees) and governance. The amount was allocated to supply all services targeting carers. These services were promoted through the Hertfordshire Carers’ website that works and is financed through part of the total resources.

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Yes Authorities
Yes Private Care Sector
Yes Health and Social Care Systems
Yes Third Sector
Yes Private Companies

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Not available

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The main provider is a charity.
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Yes Informal Carers
Yes Health Professionals
Yes Social Care Professionals
Yes Privately-Hired Care Assistants (inc. Migrant Care Workers)
Yes Volunteers

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The organisation has a staff of carer support advisors who provide expert advice on planning care roles and tasks. Carers in Hertfordshire's work is delivered by 36 staff and 74 volunteers in local services within communities in Hertfordshire and from another base in the county town of Hertford. Carers in Hertfordshire staff and volunteers work with and for carers, 1-1 and in groups.

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Volunteers are involved as mentors and social workers. The website section: “Help us to help carers” is a recruitment channel for volunteers.

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1,001 - 5,000
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Not available

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The main promotional channel is the website. The provider organises many initiatives for funding, training and dissemination such as a learning limitation forum, poetry as healing meetings and events for socialisation. Another example is the Carers' Passport Discount Card, in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council, which entitles the cardholder to a range of offers and discounts such as joining a gym, having a massage or having coffee with friends. The number of companies participating in the Discount Card Project is constantly increasing. In addition, the website contains a section on social networks and a forum.

Evaluation
refers to the impact of the service on end-users, care organisations and authorities

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The service could have a positive impact on the quality of life of:

- Informal carers by helping them to reconcile care and work (Hertfordshire Carers-3, 2014), to improve their health (Hertfordshire Carers-4, 2014) and save money if they do not work and have not any income through the Carers’ Passport Discount Card (Hertfordshire Carers-1, 2014)

- Older people by enhancing the quality of care they receive.

Another benefit is the informal carers’ acceptability of the ICT and their integration within the formal care sector.

Informal carers social inclusion through: an information mailing service also to receive a copy of the local authority’s countywide publication Carewares and newsletters four times a year; to get involved in discussions, listening events and consultations or become a carer trainer; to attend workshops and activities with other carers (Hertfordshire Carers -2, 2014)

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The service can positively affect:

- Companies providing care by training care professionals through the informal carers’ experience. The Carer Trainer Unit involves trained carers in the planning and delivery of training to health and social care professionals (Hertfordshire Carers-5, 2014).

- The labour market, by allowing informal carers to reconcile work and caring tasks by planning the need services. This avoids the added costs for substituting/replacing workers.

(Hertfordshire Carers-3, 2014)

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The service may benefit public authorities, the NHS and social care services by training also formal carers.

(Hertfordshire Carers-5, 2014)

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Strengths

  1. The website is particularly user friendly and updated with an exhaustive FAQ section

  2. There is also a section on services for carers with limited knowledge of English (available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/how-we-can-help/services-for-carers-with-limited-english).

  3. Carers can find help in planning the practical support needed, which is can be requested by phone

  4. Hertfordshire Carers works in collaboration with NHS Hertfordshire and GP surgeries across the county to make sure carers stay fit and healthy. Carers have to register themselves as “carers” with their GP surgery and this gives carers the right to to arrange appointments at times which suit them and gain extra support and understanding from surgery staff.

Weaknesses

  1. The initiative has a limited local coverage. It should be extended to allow users to compare their experiences with carers from different areas.

Opportunities

  1. The organisation could spread the initiative to other countries in order to gain new users, volunteers and funding as unsupported informal carers have become an international reality. In this respect the participation to Carers UK, an organisation active at European level, could be a way for starting a joint action favouring carers and overcoming the cultural differences and peculiarities among member states.

Challenges

  1. In the next future, training the volunteers who provide first phone contact, with carers could be done in order to improve the communication between operators and users and better the provided help.

  2. The service target informal carers mainly. Extending more services to formal carers as well could be an additional way for enhancing the integration between formal and informal care sectors.

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The Hertfordshire Carers is well integrated into the local social and health network, but has a limited local coverage. Nevertheless due to its user friendliness, efficacy and success, it could be easily transferable to other UK areas, as well as, internationally, with few resources, given the involvement of the charity. The initiative in an example of credible best practice to plan, deliver and review services relevant to carers.

More Information
includes contacts, publications and accompanying documents

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References

Hertfordshire Carers-1 (2014), available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/how-we-can-help/useful-information-for-carers/carers-passport.

Hertfordshire Carers-2 (2014), Carer led support group, available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/how-we-can-help/carer-led-support-groups.

Hertfordshire Carers-3, available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/how-we-can-help/carer-planning-service

Hertfordshire Carers-4 (2014), Carers’ Health, available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/taking-care-of-you/carers-health

Hertfordshire Carers-5 (2014), Carer Trainer Unit, available at http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/have-your-say/carer-training-unit?qh=YTo0OntpOjA7czo4OiJ0cmFpbmluZyI7aToxO3M6NToidHJhaW4iO2k6MjtzOjc6InRyYWluZWQiO2k6MztzOjY6InRyYWlucyI7fQ%3D%3D

Yeandle S. and Fry G., The potential of ICT in supporting domiciliary Care in England, JRC, European Commission, IPTS, 2010

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Address: Hertfordshire Carers Centre, The Red House , 119 Fore Street
Hertford, SG14 1AX

Telephone: 0044 01992 586969
email: contact@carersinherts.org.uk

Web pages:

http://www.carersinherts.org.uk/