Carer Support Wiltshire are celebrating their 10th anniversary and looking back on top ten achievements and gains for carers made since the charity was formed a decade ago.
Top ten projects
We run a number of services for carers and have been able to launch a number of new initiatives over the last ten years, often thanks to generous funding from organisations and businesses. The following are the ten projects we are most proud to have been able to work on.
Contract for Carer Support Dorset
In 2020 we had the opportunity to take on the carer service for Dorset Council and jumped at the chance to use our expertise gained from working with carers in Wiltshire in a neighbouring county. Our team at Carer Support Dorset have over 3,000 unpaid carers registered with them and provide many services, including a helpline and online cuppas.
Time for Carers Appeal
Our annual appeal provides us with funds that we are able to award to unpaid carers who are in need of financial support, particularly those who would benefit from regular opportunities for respite. In 2020 the appeal raised £30,000 and money from it has paid for gym memberships, days out, counselling, driving lessons and much more for unpaid carers, to help provide breaks and alleviate stress and mental health issues.
Talk and Support
This service pairs one of our trained volunteers with an unpaid carer and gives the carer an opportunity for a regular, confidential chat with someone impartial and trained to listen. Many unpaid carers who receive the service ask to continue it beyond the usual number of calls offered and many of our volunteers say they have built a great relationship with the person they are talking to. This service was expanded during the lockdowns in order to help isolated unpaid carers. Many of the volunteers providing the service during this time were furloughed employees looking to make a difference to those in need.
Home from Hospital
This project was run in partnership with Age UK Wiltshire and Age UK Salisbury district and provided help for those with a loved one just out of hospital. Help included a home visit, help with shopping, heating and with setting up telecare and other services.
Our GP accreditation scheme is also in its 10th year. The scheme works with GP practices across Wiltshire and sets minimum standards for the services they are providing for unpaid carers. These standards include having a carers lead at the surgery, keeping an up-to-date register of unpaid carers and providing priority appointments. 41 out of the 46 surgeries in Wiltshire received awards last year.
Working for Carers
This service was set up in 2016 to help the growing number of unpaid carers who are currently unemployed but would like to return to paid employment. Many carers give up work in order to care and lose confident and skills during that time. We also worked with businesses in order to raise awareness of the issues the unpaid carers in their workforces face, and highlight the reasons it is beneficial all round to ensure that highly qualified members of their teams aren’t forced to leave when they take on a caring role.
Courage to Care
In 2019 we won funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund to run a service targeted at military carers – including spouses and veterans. Unpaid carer in the Armed Forces face a number of unique challenges and may be less likely to seek support for themselves. We have worked with military bases and medical centres to reach out to this group of carers.
In the winter of 2020 the pandemic was putting great pressure on our hospitals and discharging patients as soon as they were able to leave hospital was a priority. Unpaid carers can often feel uninformed when a loved one is being discharged, or put under pressure to take them home before everything is in place for their care. Our hospital liaison team worked with unpaid carers during the discharge process and beyond to ensure they received the correct communication and assistance. The service received 58 referrals and was positively received by both hospital staff and carers.
Young carer partnership with Youth Action Wiltshire
From April 2018, Carer Support Wiltshire began providing all-ages carer support services under a contract to Wiltshire Council. We have partnered with Youth Action Wiltshire to deliver a service to young carers (aged 5-16yrs), that includes breaks and respite. They run a packed summer schedule of events and are currently setting up young carer clubs across the county in time for the winter.
Commissioned by Wiltshire Council to carry out adult Carer Assessments
In 2018 we were commissioned by Wiltshire Council to carry out Carer Assessments. Over 5,500 have since been carried out by our team. All unpaid carers have the right to receive a Carer Assessment, which looks at the amount of care being provided and how this is impacting on the wellbeing and physical health of an unpaid carer.
Top ten numbers
This is a snapshot of our work over the past ten years in figures. These are the numbers up to March 2021. We look forward to delivering even more of the below and more for unpaid carers over the coming years.
- In excess of 20,000 carers accessed our service
- Over £1.4m was raised through fundraising
- We were running 33 different carer groups pre-COVID (most have now reopened, and we have added regular online meet-ups to our schedule too)
- We employ 48 members of staff
- Over 5,500 carer assessments were completed
- Around 10,000 initial/health and wellbeing assessments were carried out
- Around 2,000 carers were added to the database each year
- Nearly 26,000 people used the website in the last year
- 1,517 people now like our Facebook page
- Around 4,000 carers received wellbeing or welfare checks from staff or volunteers in the last year