A new refreshed and modernised service to improve the quality of life for carers and former carers living in the county will be provided by the Community Council for Somerset from October 2017.
The new Carers’ Support Service has been co-designed by carers and former carers and funded by Somerset County Council and NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The new service will include a ‘one stop shop’ of support that all carers and former carers can access, strong coordination between services and a focus on prevention to improve wellbeing.
The successful bidder, Community Council for Somerset (CCS), is a long standing Somerset charity that has well established networks in the community.
CCS will name the service Somerset Carers Agents to complement the existing Village and Community Agents services. The service will be supported with a new website that will allow carers to rapidly access information and advice, including an online chat function and a range of tools and resources. There will also be a freephone advice line manned by knowledgeable professional advisers which will give callers confidence that their call will be handled appropriately.
Cllr David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care services at Somerset County Council, said: “Carers are valued members of our community. We know there are over 58,000 unpaid carers in Somerset. This new service will make sure that all carers and former carers are supported with their caring role and have access to really good, coordinated information and advice to support their health and wellbeing. We also want to encourage carers who haven’t yet sought help or support to make the most of this new service.”
Keeley Rudd, Chief Executive of CCS, said “We are absolutely thrilled to have won this contract; Carers Agents will provide a comprehensive range of support, advice and help for carers and former carers across Somerset. The service will build on the extensive reach and networks already in place though the Village and Community Agents especially in rural areas where services are increasingly difficult to access.”
The Community Council are working with the current provider Compass Disability to ensure a smooth transition of services.
Over the last year carers and former carers have been actively involved through Carers’ Voice Somerset in shaping the new support service. They have reviewed existing services and identified what has worked well and what needs to be improved, they have been involved in reviewing the bids for the contract and going forward they will take an active role in monitoring the effectiveness of the new service.
Neil Richards, Chair of Carers’ Voice Somerset, said: “We have been involved in the co – design and tender process from start to finish and we will look forward to working with the new carers support service in the future.”