West Yorkshire and Harrogate vision for carers event
West Yorkshire and Harrogate, Health and Care Partnership(WY&H HCP) shared their vision and aspirations for unpaid carers, including young carers, living across the area at a special event in Leeds today (25 September).
Over 60 health and care professionals working in primary care including GP practices, social care and the community sector attended the event to find out how they can contribute to the WY&H HCP vision for unpaid carers.
The event, supported by NHS England, focused on improving the quality of life and well-being of the 260,000 carers living across the area.
Working in partnership with Carers Trust, Carers UK, The Children’s Society, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS England have developed voluntary quality markers for GP practices, based on what carers have said matters most to them. The CQC have also endorsed the quality markers as a model of good practice and will be looking at how these markers form part of future assessments.
Event speakers included Jen Kenward, Experience of Care Lead – Community, Primary & Integrated Care for NHS England; David Ross, NHS England Patient Experience; Dr Gordon Sinclair Clinical Lead of Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group and Fatima Khan Shah, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Carer Programme Lead.
Fatima Khan Shah said: ‘There are around 260,000 unpaid carers in West Yorkshire and Harrogate caring for loved ones, family and friends 24/7, 365 days a year. Although caring can be rewarding, there is substantial evidence that carers have poorer physical and mental health than those who are not caring, and that the more care they provide the more likely they will have poorer health. For many carers, the biggest priority is the health and wellbeing of those they care for and as such they are more likely to neglect their own health and are known to put off treatment for themselves. As a partnership we want to address this – supporting carers is one of our top priorities and colleagues on the front line are key to this important work’.
Dr Gordon Sinclair said: ‘We recognise that carers play a significant role in delivering and supporting health and care and that without them the health and care system would be overwhelmed. Supporting carers well so they have good health and wellbeing is a priority to us all. Early help reduces carer breakdown, limits support needed over the long term and prevents further ill health. It also enables carers to remain in work, benefiting their household income and local economy. Front line health and care workers have an important role to play in ensuring that all carers, regardless of age have access to early help and support’.
Jen Kenward said: ‘GPs and their practice staff are uniquely placed in our communities to identify carers. They hold a real position of trust and are often the first port of call when a carer reaches a crisis point, either in their own health or that of the person they care for. By engaging with and using the voluntary quality markers tool, GPs and their teams can demonstrate real, proactive carer friendliness that will enhance people’s experience of their care and support the practice in achieving improved results during assurance inspections’.
Rob Webster said: ‘Going to the GP and local pharmacy regularly is a fact of life for carers. An estimated 90% of carers access a primary care service either visiting with the person they care for and/or for themselves. This means these services are ideally placed to identify carers, to register them and to link them to the information and support that is available locally. There is some good work taking place in Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale; Harrogate; Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield – in local communities, in GP surgeries, via council services and voluntary organisations. Many carers are unaware of any benefits or formal help they are entitled to, often feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to cope. This needs to change and that is why we are supporting unpaid carers as a WY&H partnership priority’.