Local carers launch ‘Commitment’ to improve services

Local carers have launched a ‘Commitment to Carers’ to help create new and improved services in the county.

Carers’ Voice Somerset, an organisation that represents local carers, has coordinated the development of the ‘Commitment to Carers’ in partnership with Somerset County Council, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local carers support providers.

Over 70 carers have been involved in developing the ‘Commitment’ that sets out a list of priorities to improve the support they need. Some of the key things highlighted in the ‘Commitment’ are:
o Improved quality and access to information and advice
o Help with form filling
o Planned respite services
o Someone to talk to during and after caring for someone
o Flexible services to meet carers needs
o More support for young carers
o And organisations that work more effectively together.

The next step will be to draw up action plans that will seek to achieve the ambitions identified within the Commitment.

The ‘Commitment to Carers’ was launched last week by Carers’ Voice Somerset at an event at Hornsbury Mill, near Chard. At the launch event carers celebrated the ‘Commitment’ that they have helped create, had their say on the next steps and took part in a question and answer session with officers from the County Council and the local CCG.

Deborah Penny, Project Officer for Carers’ Voice Somerset, said: “It has been brilliant that so many carers have been involved in shaping this ‘Commitment’. It really is an opportunity for carers to make themselves heard and to find solutions together to improve services. The next step will be to make these ambitions a reality and there will be many more opportunities for carers to get involved. If you are a carer please find out more about Carers’ Voice Somerset at: http://www.carersvoicesomerset.co.uk or contact me, email DPenny@somerset.gov.uk or call 07818 523487.”

Cllr William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adults Services at Somerset County Council, said: “I would like to thank carers who have been involved in developing the ‘Commitment’. There are almost 60,000 carers in Somerset that do an amazing job caring for a relative or a friend. They need support, like a short break, emotional support or training, and it is really important that we listen to them when we are designing support services. I look forward to working with Carer’s Voice Somerset more and seeing the ambitions in the ‘Commitment’ develop.”

Dr Matthew Dolman, Chairman of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The vital role that carers play cannot be emphasised too much. As family doctors we thoroughly commend Carers’ Voice and the ‘Commitment to Carers’. Too often people who are caring for a loved one may not even think of themselves as carers, so raising awareness and helping signpost people to information advice and support is essential.”

Mr and Mrs Nidd from Ilminster have cared for their friend for 15 years, they said: “The launch event has been very interesting and we have found out lots of information about support services that we didn’t know about. It is very important to have events like this. We are looking forward to seeing how the plans work out.”

Lucy Dalley from Taunton, cares for her partner, she said: “I’m on the Carers’ Voice Board. It is important that carers have a say on how services are shaped for the future. I’m enjoying being involved, it is a privilege to be involved. I hope it leads to a more consistent range of service for carers.”

For more information on Carers’ Voice Somerset visit: http://www.carersvoicesomerset.co.uk

The launch was featured on BBC Somerset on Tuesday 16 February. To listen again go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03h9n15#play0h37m28s